KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A local teen girl is working to expand a bone marrow transplant registry so that people of all cultures have a better chance at finding a match.
Chyanne Ojageer, 14, saved her mother’s life by donating bone marrow, and it was through that process they learned how hard it can be for some people to find donors.
Neisha Ojageer was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma in 1999. She fought it and in 2003, the unexpected happened -- she gave birth to Chyanne.
Since Chyanne was born, Neisha Ojageer’s cancer has returned twice and required a bone marrow transplant.
"The doctor told me right off, 'there's no match for you,'” Ojageer said.
Ojageer is from Trinidad, and doctors said there wasn’t a donor with her same ethnic background available.
“Be the Match,” which runs the most diverse marrow registry in the world, reports 97 percent of Caucasian people are likely able to find a match, while just 66 percent of African Americans and 72 percent of Asians likely will find one.
After learning the statistics, Chyanne told Channel 9’s Samantha Manning that she wanted to be tested to see if she’d be a match for her mother.
"I have to save my mom's life, cause she has to be there for me when I grow up,” Chyanne said.
So the child Ojageer never thought she could have became the person who saved her life. The transplant was a success.
"I broke down. I cried. I was so happy. I was saying that we're going to have a normal life,” Ojageer said.
It was through helping her mother that Chyanne decided she wanted to do more to expand the bone marrow registry to include more diverse donors. Chyanne is now working on an organization she calls the "youngestbonemarrowdonor."
"When there is a not a donor for Indians, Hispanics, Asians, it's harder," she said.
Chyanne plans to hold drives in Central Florida where people can fill out a donor eligibility form and give a cheek swab.
Chyanne hopes by sharing her story, she'll inspire others to sign up and possibly save a life.
"It was very worth it to have my mom here with me,” Chyanne said.
To learn more about bone marrow donation, click here.
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