Estella Kim, a 35-year-old woman is clinging to life once again.
We brought this story to you in March 2019, when Estella was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) with Philadelphia Plus Chromosome. ALL is an aggressive blood cancer. With the added factor that Estella has Philadelphia Plus, she urgently needed a marrow transplant to survive.
In July 2019, after six months of searching for an unrelated donor and no perfect matches being found, Estella had a stem cell transplant using her brother’s stem cells, not ideal as he was only a 50 percent match. Her disease had progressed to the point where she could no longer wait for a perfect unrelated donor match. Estella has faced several major complications after the stem cell transplant.
Now, seven months after her transplant, Estella has relapsed. Her prognosis is not good. If Estella’s doctors do nothing, she will most likely die in a week. So, she will start medications to bring her white blood cell count down. And, she will start chemotherapy. The goal is to get Estella into remission as soon as possible. Right now for patients who do not go into remission, 90 percent of the patients die.
No donor has been found for Estella on the Be the Match® national registry. Matching is based on your human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. Your HLA is part of what makes you ‘you’ – your individual genetic characteristics. So, HLA matches are closely based upon a patient’s ethnicity.
Estella is Korean American. So, her perfect stem cell match will most likely be Korean.
Outreach is being done in South Korea and in the U.S. Some of Estella’s family members live in South Korea. Her family members there are coordinating outreach with the Korean Marrow Donor Program.
You can register in Estella’s name at https://join.bethematch.org/Estellasjourney or text Estella to 61474