Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

'A SURVIVAL STORY'.(Final)

Byline: Jackie Jadrnak Journal Staff Writer

Sick boy's need for transplant prompts drive to sign up more bone marrow donors

It's something of a miracle that Dakota Kwiecinski is still alive. It might take another miracle for him to make it much beyond his third birthday on Aug. 1.

"In one way, this is already a survival story," said his mother, Tristan Kwiecinski. "But we are just living in fear of a relapse."

Dakota has a rare disease -- hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) -- in which his own immune system damages his body and can ultimately kill him. His best hope for survival is a bone marrow transplant. Since he is half-Navajo, a match would be most likely from a Native American or Hispanic donor, according to Fae Jones, coordinator of New Mexico's marrow donor center.

Those ethnic groups are underrepresented on the nation's bone marrow registry, so Dakota's grandmother, Kathleen Holmes, has been working hard to sign them up in the Southwest. …

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