The New York City community turned out in force Sunday, hoping to help an Upper West Side baby in need of a bone marrow transplant.
The one-year-old girl, Ayelet Galena, suffers from a rare bone marrow syndrome called dyskeratosis congenita. Without a bone marrow donor, Ayelet won't survive.
Her plight was publicized when celebrities Rihanna, 50 Cent and Leighton Meester announced they'd gotten their cheeks swabbed to see if they were a match for Ayelet, and asked their fans to do the same.
Their efforts proved fruitful Sunday when the bone-marrow registration drive at the Jewish Community Center brought in many local residents who wanted to help the baby.
"The turnout has been so heartwarming," said Isabel Grayson, a donor recruiter at DMKS Americas who helped run the event. "Whenever I do these bone marrow drives, what's so incredible is that in the devastation of this disease, you see communities coming together."
"This little girl Ayelet will just steal your heart," Grayson added. "She's just a bouncy, happy baby. She loves to be held by her mother."
Jeannine Morris of Murray Hill said she didn't know Ayelet but, she said, "The little girl is only one year old, and I thought, God forbid that happened to anyone we knew, I'd want to help."
"I think that any human being -- I would hope someone would do that for my children, if they were sick," said Louis Williams of the Upper West Side. "We gotta all do our part."
Registrants were asked to fill out forms and swab their cheeks for about 15 seconds on each side. The tissue samples will be sent to the national bone marrow registry to see if they are match any patients currently in need of bone marrow. If registrants are called to be a match, they will be asked to do one of two "safe and simple medical procedures," according to Isabel Grayson.
Four out of 10 people rely on donors who are strangers, since relatives are rarely a match for bone marrow, according to DKMS.
Siblings are the best possibility, with a 25 percent matching rate, but Ayelet is an only child.
If the young girl receives the transplant, she has a 60 percent chance of survival.