Bay Area Family on Bone Marrow Time Clock

A two-year old boy is fighting for his life.

Jeremy Kong of San Francisco needs a bone marrow match by the end of the year. He suffers from a rare form of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia.

Doctors consider him a high-risk patient.

His chances of finding a match aren’t good.

Ruby Law with the Asian American Donor Program says out of the nine million people registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, only seven-percent are Asian. The best donor match is usually determined not just by race, but by ethnicity. Jeremy is Chinese. Only 1.1-percent of those registered to the national registry are Chinese.

His parents, both 32 years old who grew up in San Francisco, say they’re struggling to cope as they stay round-the-clock at the hospital.

“All he knows is playing and jumping around, and being with his friends,” said Anthony Kong, Jeremy’s father. He broke down before he continued. “Being hospital has been tough because he has all this pent-up energy and he can’t get it out.”

Jeremy’s mom, Alice Kong, added, “I just love him and adore him. It’s just hard to kind of see him and not know what’s going to happen to him.”

Law is helping the Kongs. She just lost a friend to leukemia on Tuesday. 25-year old Janet Liang of Pleasanton got nearly 400,000 views on a YouTube video she posted, pleading for a donor match. Liang waited three years to get a donor match. She finally got the transplant last week, but Law says it was too long and Liang’s body rejected it.

"It normally takes 45 days for cells to engraft after transplant. Because she received 15 rounds of chemotherapy, her body is really weak. It’s not enough time for her body to receive that transplant.”

So far, convincing people to not only sign up for the registry but just to stop and chat has been difficult. The Kongs blame East Asian superstition.

"They don’t want to talk about the medical needs or what could happen, possibly happen. It’s don’t say it or you’ll jinx it or something,” said Anthony Kong.

These parents say as tough as it has been, they will not stop fighting, because they’re not just pushing for one future – they’re pushing for two. Alice is eight months pregnant. She wants Jeremy to not only meet his new brother, but to grow up and enjoy life together.

“He’s such a great little guy too, we can’t help but think about what a great older brother he would be.”

Here is a list of upcoming drives:

September 14, 2012 (Fri), 2:45pm-6pm
Alamo Elementary School
250-23rd Avenue (between Clement and California Streets)

September 15, 2012 (Sat), 10am-3pm
SF Intl Dragon Boat Fest day 1
Treasure Island
San Francisco, CA 94130

September 15, 2012 (Sat), 10am-2pm
SF YMCA Chinatown
855 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

September 16, 2012 (Sun), 10am-3pm
SF Intl Dragon Boat Fest day 2, SF
Treasure Island
San Francisco, CA 94130

September 16, 2012 (Sun), 11:30am to 2pm
Great Exchange Covenant Church
562 N. Britton Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085

September 16, 2012 (Sun), 10am to 1pm
Silicon Valley Alliance Church
10 Dempsey Road
Milpitas, CA 95035

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