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Friday, March 24, 2000

Press release photo
Alvin Nishimura and his wife, Cynthia Yip, hope the Sunday
fund-raiser will lead to a bone marrow donor for the 50-year-
old man, diagnosed with leukemia in October.

Hawaii leukemia
patient’s two marrow
donors back out

Two bone marrow matches
were found for the police captain,
but both donors changed
their minds

By Suzanne Tswei


Golf pro David Ishii gave an autographed T-shirt, cap and golf balls. Entertainer Frank DeLima promised to sing and tell jokes. They are among island celebrities who are contributing to a fund-raiser Sunday to raise money for leukemia-stricken police Capt. Alvin Nishimura.

But the one thing he really needs is about a pint of life-saving bone marrow.

And the 50-year-old Nishimura, who was diagnosed in October with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, came so close.

About three weeks ago, the National Marrow Donor Program, which keeps a national donor registry and contacts with registries worldwide, had found two people whose tissue typing match Nishimura's, making them perfect candidates to give him a chance at life.

But last week the two decided against going through with the procedure.

"We had this glimmer of hope when we heard there were two perfect matches for him," said Jodi Yip, Nishimura's sister-in-law. "We thought that was great. Everything was on track. Then we heard they dropped out.

"It's really been an emotional roller-coaster ride. It was very disheartening. But we just have to have heart and faith that it's all going to work out. Our focus now is to find a donor, a donor who will stay on."

Nishimura's family and friends were keeping a positive attitude yesterday as they prepared for Sunday's fund-raiser that will include a bone marrow registration drive by the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

The fund-raiser, to be held at the Neal Blaisdell Center's exhibition hall, features Kapena, the Makaha Sons of Niihau, Pure Heart and other entertainers. Food, a silent auction and door prizes are also included.

Tickets are $25 each and available at Ticket Plus outlets, Tempo Music, Foodland and Sack-N-Save. For more information, call Friends of Alvin Nishimura, 948-1000.

The family had thought about trying to find the two potential donors who backed out. But they couldn't get any details because all donor information is confidential.

"We can't even find out where these people live. They can be anywhere, on the mainland or in another country," Yip said. The family had considered preparing public service announcements to be broadcast and distributed in the home towns of the two matches, hoping they would see the announcements and change their minds.

"But we can't even begin to investigate (where the two potential donors live.) If we were to contact them, it would be considered a form of harassment -- that's if we knew anything about them in the first place," she said.

Nishimura, a 28-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant, said his wife, television personality Cynthia Yip. He has undergone extensive chemotherapy treatment, but his condition has not improved, she said.

Nishimura, a Farrington High School graduate, discovered he had leukemia after the police department's required annual physical examination alerted him to his unusual white blood cell count. He is under private care in Hawaii and has received additional doctor's care at the City of Hope, a premier bone marrow transplant facility, in California.

E-mail to City Desk

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