Taxi Drivers Rally to Help Boy, 3, With Leukemia

Cabbies join bone marrow drive

By Lynda Baquero
|  Thursday, Feb 17, 2011  |  Updated 7:49 AM EDT
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Rayan, who is just 3-years-old, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Friends and taxi drivers want to get him the help he deserves.

Rayan, who is just 3-years-old, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. Friends and taxi drivers want to get him the help he deserves.

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Taxi drivers are spreading the word about a bone marrow donor drive for a 3-year-old boy who's battling leukemia.

Rayan, the son of Pakistani parents who now live in New York City, looks the picture of health.

But two weeks ago, doctors revealed the active toddler is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

A family friend, Sohail Khan, told NBC New York the boy's parents feel "a great sense of helplessness."

Khan described the mother's anguish over her little boy while watching him learn and grow.

"And to just see that and at the same time to think that, maybe that won't be going on for long...it's just very difficult for her," Khan said.

Khan is one of the people now leading the race to find a bone marrow match, which is difficult among the South Asian community, which makes up only a miniscule fraction of the bone marrow donor registry.

Khan helps run a Facebook page called "Cure Rayan". It's a global effort to help the boy and has attracted more than 4,000 people to sign up.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky says cabbies are now coming to the rescue. They're putting up posters at taxi garages to spread the word about a bone marrow donor drive tomorrow on the Upper West Side.

Yassky points out that many taxi drivers are of South Asian descent.

"So I think it's an opportunity where they can really make a difference here," he said.

While waiting for a fare at Penn Station, taxi driver Ekramul Karim told NBC New York: "If I am young and healthy, I would love to help." Another driver, Mohammed Mostafa said he'd be willing to sign up for the registry too.

A swab on the cheek can determine who's a match for Rayan.

You can order a free testing kit online by going to getswabbed.org. If you'd like to help out and register in person, the bone marrow drive continues Thursday, Feb. 17 in the gymnasium at the Mandell School, at 795 Columbus Avenue in Manhattan (between 97th and 99th streets). The drive will run from 7:30 a.m until 12:30 p.m.

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