Little Sophia Lopez suffers from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare blood disease that's found in only one in a million children each year. Her doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital, Gustavo del Toro, says she needs a bone marrow transplant in order to live.
Sophia's family made a public plea on Thursday to find a match for their daughter. None of the infant's relatives is a match. But the challenge is the baby's Hispanic heritage. She is of Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian descent. And as Sophia's mother, Denise Lopez, points out "we only make ten percent of the bone marrow registry".
State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) stood with the family to urge the public to join the world bone marrow registry. He says "just by having someone just have a simple swab in their mouth... we can find as many matches as possible so families like the Lopez family will not have to wait in vain."
To join the registry, all that's required is a cheek swab. When a match is found -- and if that donor agrees to the process-- they must take medication for five days to enrich the blood. Then that blood is drawn. No hospitalization is required. Only rarely is there the need to inject a long needle into the bone. And even then, says Dr. del Toro, patients experience minor discomfort for just a couple of days.
If you want to help baby Sophia, there will be a bone marrow donor drive in conjunction with the world's largest bone marrow donor center, DKMS, this Saturday, May 22nd from 10am until 4pm at P.S. 71, Rosa E. Scala School, 3040 Roberts Avenue, Bronx NY.