Family seeks bone marrow donor to cure daughter’s cancer
When Essie Gutierrez was ten years old, she had a bruise that wouldn’t go away, so her mother took Essie to Nemours Children’s Health Hospital in Jacksonville. Essie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a blood cancer. She is now 17 and has been undergoing chemotherapy for seven years.
PALM COAST, Fla. When Essie Gutierrez was ten years old, she had a bruise that wouldn’t go away, so her mother took Essie to Nemours Children’s Health Hospital in Jacksonville.
“I went in and said to have an MRI done for my daughter, there’s a bruise that won’t go away. And they said we couldn’t do an MRI, but we’ll do some other stuff and weave some stuff,” said Shannon.
After testing, the family got the worst possible news.
“About 45 minutes later, the doctor came in and closed the door. He said, ‘Unfortunately, your daughter is being admitted because of cancer symptoms.'”
Essie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a blood cancer. She is now 17 and has been undergoing chemotherapy for seven years.
“It’s a pill,” Essie said. “I take it twice a day. One in the morning and one in the evening.”
Doctors say Essie’s best hope for the future lies in a bone marrow transplant. Essie’s family and friends spent Sunday morning in Palm Coast collecting cell samples from potential donors.
The nonprofit group “Be The Match” is testing them to see if they’re right for Essie or another leukemia patient. If so, they contact the donor to help save the patient’s life by giving them some of their cancer-fighting immune cells.
“A lot of people think it’s surgical. It’s not surgical. It’s all through the blood, IV-to-IV. They take HLA [human leukocyte antigen] cells, that’s what they’re looking for,” Shannon says.
Julie Diaz was there to help with her son, Jayden Wilkinson. A bone marrow donor also cured his leukemia.
“It just shows you, we’re 11 months post-transplant and we’re doing amazingly,” Diaz said.
The Gutierrez family hopes that one day they will also find the match for Essie. She says that match will give her her life back.
“Knowing that’s not on the back of my mind anymore. Knowing that I survived and beat this terrible disease,” Essie said.
To apply to donate your life-saving blood to cure a cancer patient, please visit https://bethematch.org/.
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