The race is on to save a 60-year-old grandmother diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia who needs a match for a blood stem cell transplant to survive.

Maria Banuelos’ children and grandchildren put a video together in an effort to save her life after the 60-year-old Fillmore resident was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August.

“The shirt says in this family no-one fights alone so we’ve been united. She is our corner stone, she is our rock, she is everything to us,” said daughter Tency Ramirez.

Tency is the oldest of Banuelos’ five children. The matriarch also has six grandchildren and several siblings, but none are a match for the blood stem cell transplant she needs, and neither is anyone on the ‘Be the Match’ registry.

“We saw it as a blessing in disguise that we need to bring more awareness to the hispanic community,” she said.

A patient is more likely to match with someone of the same ethnicity and of the more than 22 million people on the nationwide donor registry, only 7% are Latino.

Two weeks ago her family held drive-up registration events in Ventura County, Texas, and Mexico. More than a thousand people provided a mouth swab to see if they’re a match for Banuelos.

“Our goal is to find someone for my mom and at least 10 other people on the list,” daughter Carmen Magana said.

You can text the word “abuela,” which is Spanish for grandmother, to 61474 and you’ll receive a link to register. If you’re a match, all medical and travel expenses will be paid by Be the Match registry. Her family says what they will provide is their love and profound gratitude.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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