At four years old, Norah Gratz-Lazarus of California is a sweet, bubbly girl, full of spirit. She’s a big sister, and loves jokes, ice cream, and chocolate chip cookies.
The good news: there is a cure for blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.
The bad news: Finding a donor for Norah is exceedingly difficult.
So her family is trying their their hardest to find a bone marrow donor.
What are Fanconi Anemia and Aplastic Anemia?
Aplastic anemia occurs when the body’s bone marrow stops making enough new blood cells due to damaged stem cells. The condition can develop over time or quite suddenly in people of any age. However, it does tend to get worse as time passes.
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Bleeding gums
- Recurrent or lengthy infections
- Shortness of breath with exertion
- Pale skin
Fanconi anemia (FA) is one such type of aplastic anemia and it most often affects patients 10 years old and younger. Early signs of FA usually are birth defects that include:
- Small size
- Abnormal thumbs and/or radial bones
- Skin pigmentation
- Small heads
- Small eyes
- Abnormal kidney structures
- Cardiac and skeletal anomalies
Affected individuals have an increased risk of developing a cancer of blood-forming cells in the bone marrow called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), or tumors of the head, neck, skin, gastrointestinal system, or genital tract.
Norah Needs You Campaign
Norah’s family has set up a website campaign to find a bone marrow donor – Norah Needs You. The campaign urges people, especially Ashkenazi Jews, who are more likely to be a good match for Norah, to sign up for the U.S. bone marrow registry.
Because finding bone marrow matches is such a numbers game, her family is urging for as many donors as possible.
“It’s kinda like winning the lottery,” Norah’s dad Zachary Gratz-Lazarus explains. “The more tickets that are out there the more likely some is going to have those numbers.”
As of this writing, the “Norah Needs You” campaign signed up nearly 1,000 people. Norah’s family goal is 10,000 new signups.
How to Donate
Sign up online and Be The Match sends you a kit. Then simply swab and send it back.
As for the actual donation process, it is less invasive and simpler than people think. Donors are generally in and out of the hospital the same day. In some cases they can gather the necessary cells from a vein in your arm, or withdraw liquid marrow. However, the marrow draw itself is painless and recovery is described as a dull ache similar to soreness after a workout.
Zachary concedes that the idea of giving bone marrow sounds scary, but it’s really just a matter of education.
“I think people don’t sign up because they don’t know,” he said. “It’s just an unknown.”
So please consider seeing if you’re a match to help this beautiful young lady avoid a possible leukemia diagnosis and make her family’s holidays all the more brighter.