After months of waiting, Los Angeles County Sheriff's sergeant finds a donor

March 27, 2017 | by Letisia Marquez

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Jorge Chavez has overcome one major hurdle in his battle against leukemia. He has found a donor.

 After dozens of drives were held throughout Los Angeles County, Chavez, 42, who has acute myeloid leukemia, recently announced that he had found a donor.

“Although we still have a long road ahead of us, your prayers, help, support and caring efforts have set us on our way,” Chavez’s family wrote on a Facebook page set up to help him find a match. His family also thanked the donor – “Earth Angel hero wherever you are, thank you.”

In an email interview, Chavez shared that the match “put my spirits on full throttle!”

“My co-workers and the Be the Match representatives have been amazing,” Chavez wrote. “Nearly 2,600 people have joined the bone marrow registry as a result of the donor drives they have had for me.

“Hundreds of people have donated platelets and blood for me, also due to their efforts,” he added. “I am forever grateful to them for all of the hard work they have done. I don't know why so many people want to keep me alive. I don't owe anyone any money!”

In order to find the best match for Chavez, his colleagues within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department held more than 60 drives, according to Raquel Edpao, a community outreach specialist with the Be The Match registry at City of Hope. (Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program and manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.)

Statistically, one out of every 430 registered donors goes on to donate, she added, so the drives have the potential of saving at least six other patients in need.  

In order to find the best donor, a patient’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type is analyzed, according to Be The Match. HLAs are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in a person’s body. A doctor tries to find a donor whose HLA most closely matches the patient’s.

A close HLA match increases the likelihood of a successful transplant, according to Be The Match. It also improves engraftment — when the donated cells start to grow and make new blood cells in you — and reduces the risk of complications after transplant, especially graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). (GVHD is a potentially serious complication which occurs when the immune cells, which are part of the donated marrow or cord blood, attack the patient’s body.)

“Despite having a very aggressive disease, I still feel very confident that I will overcome this,” Chavez wrote. “I can't explain why I feel this way. Right now, I am a conduit of God's will and I'm okay with that, as long as good keeps coming out of this.”



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