Areli Bahena’s 3-year-old son jumps on his bed, even after she tells him not to.
When the door to his room opens, he darts out of bed like a gunshot, startling whoever’s coming inside.
But Bahena doesn’t mind.
“I think that’s what’s keeping me strong,” Bahena said. “Just seeing him be himself still, seeing him with all the energy he has. That’s what’s helping me not get depressed and emotional right now — that he’s still him.”
In January, her son Marco was diagnosed with leukemia.
Bahena and other family members and friends have since been regularly keeping him company at Rady’s Children’s Hospital.
On Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., they rallied to find him a bone marrow match, holding a registry drive at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Logan Heights.
An estimated 120 people registered as possible bone marrow donors.
That’s 120 more chances to save Marco and others like him.
Due to the lack of minorities in the registry base, the efforts go a long way, although the registrants often took some convincing.
“They would get scared,” said Bahena, who lives nearby the church. “Not a lot of people know what bone marrow is.”
Bone marrow is a soft, fatty tissue found in bones’ interior. In a transplant, a donor provides healthy marrow stem cells that are transferred into the patient.
The process to register requires a few quick cotton swabs to an inside cheek. Registrants are then added to a database and are later contacted, often years later, if at all, when they match someone in need of marrow.
Bahena knows what finding a donor could do for Marco.
He already jumps on and out of his bed. He already runs toward a hospital door.
With a match, he'll be able to open it and exit it for good.
“Thank you for whoever came and took the time out of their day to come,” Bahena said. “Thank you to all my family who was here helping me today.”
Anyone who would like to join the registry can find more information online at the Be The Match website.