Latino bone marrow donors are few and far between, but 6-year-old Eduardo Grijalva is in need to cure his leukemia. The family is holding a bone marrow drive March 29 at River Glen Elementary in San Jose. George Kiriyama reports.
Six-year-old Eduardo Grijalva is the textbook definition of the word strength. At the age of three he was diagnosed with lymphoma. More than three years later, he defeated it.
"We won the battle", Ana Contreras, Eduardo's mother, said.
But the celebration turned out to be short lived. In February, Contreras noticed something was not quite right with her son. She took her son to the hospital where doctors ran tests on him. 24 hours later, she received a phone call that would turn their world upside down again.
"They called me the next day and they say you know what your son has leukemia," Contreras said.
The family was told the leukemia in Eduardo's body is very aggressive. The only way he can survive is through a bone marrow transplant.
"We don't have another option. Chemo is not working. The response is not really great with chemotherapy so the next step is bone marrow transplant," Contreras said.
Eduardo knows what's going on with his body. His mother says despite the pain he sometimes experiences, Eduardo never complains. She's amazed by how calm and how strong he has been, battling first lymphoma and now leukemia. She says Eduardo inspires here every day. But, she admits she's scared of losing her son.
"That I'm afraid. That I'm sad. That I'm frustrated because he's really a good person. He don't complain about nothing," Contreras said.
Eduardo's first-grade teacher Laura Gonzalez is helping the family spread the word about finding a bone marrow match. The students at River Glen School in San Jose are there for Eduardo every day, cheering him on.
"I have students reading books to him. They are so excited. They make up songs. And they sing to him. And so it's exciting to see these six year olds understanding and being so compassionate," Gonzalez said.
But they all know how challenging it is to find a bone marrow match. The National Marrow Donor Program says only 10 percent of all donors nationwide are Hispanic or Latino.
"It's really, really frustrating for me. There's nothing that I can do by my hands or by myself to save my son," Contreras said.
The family hopes their son will inspire others to answer the call.
"I'm really convinced we can find it and we can save Edu. That we can do whatever we need to do convince the people to do the test," Contreras said.
A "Flea Market Fundraiser" will take place on Saturday at River Glen School, 1088 Broadway Avenue, in San Jose from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.. All money raised will help Eduardo and his family. On March 29, you can see you if you are match for Eduardo in a Bone Marrow Donor Drive at River Glen School. The test will involve only a cheek swab test. No needles. The drive will run from 2:30 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. To learn more about Eduardo, click here.