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Bone marrow match needed for NJ girl whose leukemia relapsed

Anya LeFrancis
Anya LeFrancis (Photo courtesy of the LeFrancis family)

CHESTER TOWNSHIP — When Anya LeFrancis was in kindergarten, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She responded well to initial treatments, which ended around the beginning of her third grade year. But now 9 years old and in fourth grade, Anya’s leukemia has relapsed, and she’s in the fight of her life.

What Anya needs at this stage is a bone marrow transplant, but because of her mixed ethnicity (her father is of Western European descent, her mother South Indian), a full match has been difficult to find.

“To have the hope of having a perfect match, to have a match, (that’s) one less obstacle that you need to overcome as a patient,” said Bob LeFrancis, Anya’s dad.

He is urging people to show up this Wednesday, March 22, for a bone marrow test drive at Dickerson Elementary School. The event was rescheduled from March 15 due to snow.

Those who participate will be placed on the DKMS donation registry, and all it will likely involve is a cheek swab using a Q-tip. Given advancements in medical technology, only 23 percent of the time do doctors need to test a potential donor’s actual bone marrow to see if that person matches.

For Bob LeFrancis, just showing up would make a huge difference to his family.

“Only one in every 430 people that are on the registry will ever be called on to donate, but you could be one of the 430 people that match my daughter,” Bob said. “To take 10 minutes of your time, 15 minutes of your time to be able to save a life is incredible.”

He said if you are unable to participate in person, you can go to the DKMS website and order a self-testing kit, which is mailed directly to your address.

“The more people that get registered, and get on the registry, the greater chance that you have, if God forbid one of your relatives ever goes through this.”

For more information, check out a Facebook page that’s been created in Anya’s honor. The donor test runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Patrick Lavery produces “New Jersey’s First News” and is New Jersey 101.5’s morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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