WEST ORANGE, NJ — Veronica DePauli, a 7-year-old West Orange resident, is suffering from the blood cancer osteopetrosis, and the only way to overcome her illness is through a bone marrow transplant procedure. Community Blood Services, Be The Match® national registry, is spearheading a search to help Veronica find a match.
Veronica faces the common challenge of identifying a compatible donor, which is especially difficult in her case since none of her family members are a match. According to Be The Match, relatives are the typically the most likely source of a match, but 70 percent of all identified compatible donors represent a stranger helping a stranger.
For most individuals, a donor is most likely to come from within their own ethnic group. Because Veronica is Hispanic, she faces the challenge of Hispanic donors representing only about 10 percent of the global Be The Match® bone marrow registry, which, along with Montvale-based Community Blood Services, is assisting the DePauli family with its search.
“This blood cancer that little Veronica faces can be dreadful – pain, a high risk of fractures, trouble walking, and it has already started effecting her vision,” said Cheryl Bacigalupo, director of Community Blood Services’ HLA Registry. “She’s an extremely courageous young lady, and by sharing her story, we hope to unite communities and organizations to find a donor that can save Veronica.”
Individuals between the ages of 18-44 can sign up as potential marrow donors during a registration drive. Being tested is quick and simple – just a cheek swab and completion of some paperwork. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
Veronica’s overall odds of success are bolstered by the efforts of Community Blood Services and Be The Match, which are working with Veronica’s family to host donation drives as well as fundraising events.
The next local blood drive will be held on Monday, April 30, at West Orange High School, 51 Conforti Avenue, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. On May 6, an event will be held at St. Michael’s RC Church in Newark from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This is a case where someone contributing just a small amount of time can totally change Veronica’s life,” said Bob Kessler, recruitment director for Community Blood Services. “We’re doing everything we can to assist Veronica and her family, so she can get back to focusing on what makes being a seven-year-old so special—running and playing, drawing picture, and going to school with friends.”
Pictured above are photos from a recent blood and bone marrow testing drive held in Jersey City, courtesy of Sonia Owchariw.
For more information on Veronica, marrow donation, or to learn how to host a drive, click here.
To join the online registry for Veronica or other patients searching for a match, click here.