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Monday, December 25, 2000

HPD captain again
needs marrow
donor’s aid

Alvin Nishimura's leukemia
is back, but a transfusion may help

By Treena Shapiro

Alvin Nishimura has just one wish this Christmas, but it's a big one.

The Honolulu police captain, who underwent a bone marrow transplant on May 30, is hoping the anonymous 31-year-old male who gave him the bone marrow will now be able to donate some blood.

Eleven days ago, Nishimura learned the devastating news that his acute lymphoblastic leukemia had returned. He has been undergoing outpatient chemotherapy since, and expects to be readmitted to the hospital next week.

"The donor has given us so much that it's really hard for us to ask him to do it again," Nishimura said. "This new treatment is like a blood transfusion. I won't blame him if he doesn't want to do it again, but that's our shining star, and I guess that can probably save me."

Nishimura will be treated at Queen's Medical Center or, if his donor agrees to participate, he will travel to the Fred Hutchinson Hospital in Seattle to undergo high-level chemotherapy. If the donor's healthy cells are still in his system after the chemotherapy, doctors will infuse Nishimura with lymphocytes from the donor's blood, which should strengthen Nishimura's own blood and help him fight the leukemia.

Nishimura spent Christmas Eve surrounded by family at his mother's home in Kalihi. Today he is with the family of his wife, Cynthia Yip Nishimura. "I'm feeling OK because it's the holidays and there's a lot of family and friends around. My spirits are high," he said yesterday.

Until the relapse, Nishimura had planned to return to work in January and was arranging to meet his donor. "I really want to meet him," he said. "He did so much for me already, and I appreciate what he did."

Nishimura said he is a little tired, one of the symptoms that signaled the relapse. But in spite of the relapse and chemotherapy, Yip Nishimura said her husband has a high level of energy and spirits.

The first three days were devastating, however, she said. They were informed by doctors at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., that there was nothing more that could be done because it was too soon for another bone marrow transplant.

After consulting doctors and searching the Internet, though, the couple learned about the possibility of the lymphocyte infusion. "I feel better that there are options out there for him," Yip Nishimura said.

"We have a lot of faith that God is watching over Alvin," she added. "Now we see it as something to make him even stronger than he was."

This is the second Christmas the Nishimuras are spending waiting for word from a bone marrow donor, and Yip Nishimura has the same single wish. "I told Alvin that all I wanted for Christmas was that I wanted his health restored."

Nishimura added one thing to his Christmas list: "I just hope and pray that other people with the same ailment and people that are suffering have as merry a Christmas as I'm having right now. I know it's a difficult time for them."

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