A Filipino-American police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department is in dire need of a bone marrow match from someone of Filipino heritage.
Officer Matthew Medina, a seven-year veteran of the police force, is reportedly suffering from aplastic anemia, a blood disorder that requires a bone marrow transplant to survive, ABC Channel 7 reports.
Unlike other types of transplants, bone marrow donations are required to be even more genetically similar to their recipients. According to Time, the success rate to find matches is much higher between donors and patients of the same ethnic background.
While finding a match is difficult enough, the odds of getting a match sharing a common heritage is made even slimmer by the low registry numbers for many ethnic groups.
“This whole experience has been an emotional roller coaster since he was diagnosed,” his wife, Angelee Medina, was quoted as saying.
While his weakened immune system has made it difficult for him to attend the drives organized for him, there has been an outpouring of support from his family and friends.
“It seems like it’s been non-stop support from family, friends, and co-workers,” said Matthew Medina.
CrossFit Live in Norwalk offers a glimmer of hope for Medina as most people in the fitness classes are of Filipino heritage and they have expressed a desire to help the LAPD officer.
“Primarily 90 percent are Filipinos here,” owner Norman Andres said.
Currently, Filipinos comprise only a half percent of people registered as potential marrow donors, making the odds of finding a match such an overwhelming challenge.
To get more people to register, the Medina family teamed up with non-profit group A3M (Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches).
“It’s not like a cross-fit competition where you can make up time on a second workout or third workout. You got one chance. You’ve got to make it happen. And I think we have enough faith to do it in our Filipino and our Asian communities,” Andres said.
They have also simplified the donation process. After checking eligibility, potential donors just need to fill out a few forms and do a cheek swab.
If a registrant is found to be a match, staying committed to donating is key in order to save the life of the father of two.
“It’s like you’re that jackpot. If you happen to be the specific match of that patient, you’re giving them an extension of their life,” said A3M recruiter Chris Chen.
“I just keep praying that something will happen any minute, any day or any minute. I hope it’ll happen sooner than we know it,” said Angelee Medina.
Matthew Medina pointed out that having a desire to help is a trait that makes heroes out of people.
“If not for me, for somebody else. You can be the cure for somebody else,” he said.
Potential donors and interested parties may check out Medina’s Match4Matt Facebook page for more details.