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EDITORIAL : LIFE LINE; ORGAN AND BONE MARROW DONORS ARE DESPERATELY NEEDED, ESPECIALLY FOR MINORITY PATIENTS.

AMADOR Navarro, 6, is a lucky little boy, about one-in-a-million lucky.

After waiting almost half his life, the Sylmar child, son of Alejandra and Jose Navarro, recently received a bone marrow transplant in an effort to cure his leukemia. Daily News Staff Writer Yvette Cabrera details the family's three-year ordeal in finding a donor and the happy outcome in today's edition.

``Statistically speaking, the odds of a Latino finding a donor is one in a million, while the best case for a Caucasian is one in 20,000,'' said Salvador Sandoval, who founded a registry in Northern California to find potential donors for all ethnicities, but particularly for Latinos.

For several reasons, the nation's largest donor registry, the National Marrow Donor Program in Minneapolis, has brokered transplants for only 346 Latino patients in its 10-year history.

There is good and bad news concerning leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. The bad news is that disease causes more deaths among children 1 to 14 in the United States than any other disease.

The encouraging news is that the cure rate for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia is 79 percent, up from the 1960 survival rate of 4 percent.

One potential cure is a bone marrow transplant. Because such transplants must match the genetic makeup of the patient's marrow as perfectly as possible if the donor isn't a family member, doctors search for donors within the patient's own ethnic group.

Despite a push to recruit more minority donors, the national registry reports Latinos account for only 216,102, or 7 percent of the more than 3 million donors registered.

The numbers are slightly better for African-Americans, 235,559 donors, but lower for Asian-Americans, 173,183, and American Indian/Alaskan natives, 40,543.

Experts say a lack of information in Spanish and misconceptions keep Latinos away from volunteering as donors.

The procedure and recovery from extracting marrow from the donor's pelvic bone can be painful, but typically donors are released from the hospital in a day and are back at work in a week.

Signing up as organ donors or donating marrow is one of the most generous gifts a person can make, the gift of life.

Children like Amador will thank you.
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 8, 1998
Words:375
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