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Ford column – Help Maya find a match

My thoughts are with Maya these days. Maya Chamberlin is a beautiful, smart 4-year-old from California I’ve never met. But she’s on my mind.
She’s the daughter of a childhood friend. From Sam’s photos and stories, I know that Maya is a singer. A dancer. A cookie baker.
But now Maya is sick. She became gravely ill with a disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, two months ago. HLH is an extremely rare blood disorder.
Maya is truly one in a million.
One day, she was at home drawing pictures and protecting her toys from her little brother. Two days later, she was hospitalized with symptoms so severe they nearly took her life.
Without treatment, HLH advances rapidly and is usually fatal. Luckily, doctors diagnosed Maya within days and started chemotherapy, even though HLH is not cancer.
Maya has been hospitalized ever since and is completing her eighth week of chemo. She has had complications and at one point had 14 IV pumps.
Her mom, Mina, stays at the hospital much of the time. Family members have arrived from as far away as India to help care for 2-year-old Jaden so Sam can work and spend time with Maya.
The only cure for HLH is a bone marrow transplant.
Maya needs bone marrow that very closely matches her own. The best chance for a match is a sibling, but Jaden is not a match.
The next best chance is a parent. But Sam and Mina are not matches.
So, they need your help. Maya needs your help.
They need people to quickly join the National Marrow Donor Registry so they will have the largest pool to search for a match for Maya.
Even if you aren’t a match for Maya, you could be a match for someone else who desperately needs bone marrow. Every new donor will give other people in their dire situation another breath of hope.
You could have Maya’s future inside you. Think of it. You could hold the key to curing her disease, or the disease of another sick child or adult, inside you right now.
It’s easy and painless to join the registry. If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, check online for bone marrow drives in our area. Just enter your zip code and how far you’re willing to drive. Go to www.marrow.org/HELP/Events/ index.html.Or request a registration kit online. By simply placing four cheek swabs in a pre-paid envelope and dropping it in the mail, you’ve taken the first step to save a life. Go to www.marrow.org/JOIN/Join_Now/join_now.html.These days, I try to imagine what it’s like to have a critically ill child whose future depends on a stranger.
And I hug my kids a little tighter, kiss my husband a little longer, pause a little more often for gratitude, pray a little more fervently that Maya finds a match.
Could it be you?Read Maya’s story at www.caringbridge.org. Enter “concentrate” where it asks for a website.
Contact Emily Ford at eford@salisburypost.com

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