Family hopes for boy’s marrow match
The 12-year-old's life depends on Hawaii's multiracial pool of possible donors
A transplant of bone marrow or cord blood is the only thing that will save Joshua Maligro, a 12-year-old Filipino-Caucasian boy undergoing chemotherapy in California.
His father, Brent Maligro, is from Hawaii but now lives in Brentwood, Calif. Relatives will hold donor drives here in hopes that Hawaii's multiracial makeup might increase the chances of finding a match for Joshua.
Donors of Asian/Pacific Islander ancestry make up only 6 percent of the national registry and are always needed, said Roy Yonashiro, recruitment supervisor of the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
"The best chance is with donors with the same ethnic background," he said.
Desiree Maligro said Joshua, her middle child, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a rarely cured form of cancer, Nov. 25, 2006. After surviving several rounds of chemotherapy -- during which he almost died twice -- he had a brief remission. But the cancer came back with a vengeance in February. He is undergoing chemotherapy at Oakland Children's Hospital & Research Center.
The recurrence was "almost worst than the initial diagnosis" because it was another dagger blow to a family just beginning to heal, she said.
"I felt I let my guard down and then it came back. I blamed myself. ... I felt like someone really beat me up. My husband shut down," Maligro said.
Joshua, though severely depressed and "very scared," still managed to say, "I beat it once; no one can say I can't beat it again," she said.
"He has a very young soul. He has a passion for life you rarely see. Of my three kids, he's the most caring, the most loving. He's got a different kind of heart. He's a great kid."
Joshua's positive outlook has made his family cling to hope even harder, though they are well aware of how remote his recovery is, his mom said. Even if a donor match is found, the chance of his surviving is only 10 percent, she added. Doctors don't know how long he can survive without the transplant, but if he doesn't find a match, the chemotherapy will eventually cause the collapse of his organs.
"I believe there is a reason for everything. We will never know why (he was afflicted with cancer), unfortunately. When people ask, 'Why children? They're so innocent,' I say, 'No, why anyone?' It's not just children -- it happens to the best people in the world," she said.
drive to keep boy alive
Registering at Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry drives involves a cheek swab. It takes 14 weeks for test results to determine a match.
The next scheduled bone marrow drive will be held Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Campus Center; and at Waianae High School's Shop 2 Building from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Donor drives arranged specifically for Joshua Maligro will be announced when dates are confirmed.
For more information call the Hawaii registry, located at St. Francis Medical Center, at 547-6154, or visit www.marrow.org.
Joshua's relatives are selling Larry's Wholesale Bakery goods to help raise funds for medical expenses 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays at Leeward Bowl. Ask for or order from Doreen Kalaau at 306-4205; or Vanessa M. Couch-Jimenez at 630-3429. They will deliver.