FREMONT — Anthony and Alice Kong are stuck in every parent’s nightmare.
Their 2-year-old son, Jeremy, was diagnosed in June with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia and he needs a bone-marrow transplant to survive.
The Kong family now is racing against time to find a matching donor. If one is not found within the next six weeks, Jeremy would undergo a fourth round of chemotherapy, further endangering him by reintroducing more toxins to his little body.
“We really only have until the end of Jeremy’s treatment (in mid-November) to find a suitable match for him,” said Anthony Kong, a 32-year-old Web developer. “It’s what’s going to give him the best chance to find a cure.”
The Kong family has been assisted in their search by the Asian American Donor Program, an Alameda-based nonprofit devoted to recruiting people to donate bone marrow and/or stem cells for patients in need.
Ethnicity plays a big role in finding a matching donor, said Carol Gillespie, the organization’s executive director. Because Jeremy is Chinese-American, it is likely that his match also will be of Chinese descent or another Asian background.
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of Asian donors. As of last year, there were just 109,000 donors of Chinese descent — a fraction of roughly 10 million registrants worldwide, Gillespie said.
“That’s a small pool of people,” she said. “Jeremy has not found a donor in the entire world.”