Story by Mónica Barnkow and Debralee Santos
The Ares family is going against the odds.
But they’re skipping the scratch-off tickets.
Instead, the family is preparing to travel to New York from Rhode Island to ensure that Jeralene is granted a greater shot of success at finding a match.
The 11-year-old is battling sickle cell anemia – and she needs a stem cell transplant.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited cell disorder that affects red blood cells.
Jeralene was diagnosed at birth, and her first flare-up occurred when she was only eight months old. Though medication has helped to ease her pain, Jeralene has already been hospitalized numerous times.
This Sat., May 16th, the New York Blood Center will host a blood and bone marrow registry drive in Northern Manhattan for the Blessed Sacrament School sixth grader, who will attend in person together with family members.
Her best bet is a Hispanic donor.
“We need help to fight this disease that mostly affects people of color,” explains Jesús Ares, Jeralene’s father. Both Jeralene’s parents are Hispanic, of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent.
And though over 100 donors participated in an earlier drive in Rhode Island, her family has yet to find a match for Jeralene, whose best chance with a donor with a similar ethnic background.
But Latinos and other ethnic minorities usually have difficulty finding a match because people of color are underrepresented in the registry.
It is why Jeralene and her family are traveling to Northern Manhattan, home to a large Latino population, including Jeralene’s extended family.
Read more: Meeting her Match
The drive will be held on Sat., May 16th at 501 West 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. A New York Blood Center Bloodmobile Bus will be parked by the FDNY EMS Station 13 to receive donors. For more information, please visit http://nybloodcenter.org/.