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Family searches for life-saving donor with “Kobe Day” swabbing event

Search for stem cell donor match continues for eight-year-old child battling leukemia
Posted at 8:32 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:32:23-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Be The Match Registry® in partnership with Edison Mall is hosting Kobe Day, a live swab drive on Saturday, Feb. 20, in hopes of finding a stem cell donor match for eight-year-old Jakobe “Kobe” Washington, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Edison Mall parking lot (near JC Penney’s), located at 4125 Cleveland Ave.

Kobe’s leukemia can be cured by a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant, but he currently does not have any matching donors in his family or on the registry and time is running out.

Individuals 18 to 44 years old are encouraged to attend the drive, wear red (Kobe’s favorite color), and commit to donating to any patient they should match. Approximately 1 in 430 registry members will go on to donate blood stem cells and save a life. Participants will be instructed to register from their phones and will be given a painless swab on their inner cheek. Registry members will only be called for further testing if they are identified as a potential match.

Kobe loves baseball and played Little League before his diagnosis. He is a faith-filled child who loves singing worship music and praying for other's well-being, but now he needs the prayers and support of our community.

Every year, more than 12,000 patients turn to Be The Match, the national marrow donor program,to search for an unrelated blood stem cell or bone marrow donor to help cure them of blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, or blood diseases. Unfortunately, half of these patients will not find the ideal match they need – and African American patients like Kobe are least likely to find a match; only 23 percent of Black patients will find a fully matched donor.

Ancestry matters in finding a match, and of the 22 million potential donors on the registry, just four percent are Black or African American. More donors of all races and ethnicities are urgently needed to help diversify the Be The Match Registry. Those unable to attend the event can text Kobe to 61474 to receive a cheek swab kit at their home.