A drive was held to help find a bone marrow donor for a 12-year-old girl in Lithonia on Sunday.
Valaria Fenderson was born with sickle cell anemia. None of her family members tissue-type match her own so a marrow transplant from an unrelated donor is her best hope for a cure.
Ousley United Methodist Church and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent teamed up to help her find a match.
Church member Rapheal Jones organized the event.
"Valaria is just one of those young ladies that you just want to help. If I was a match right now, I would have no problem giving her the bone marrow," said Jones.
Valaria and her mom Cameca Wright were on hand for Sunday's marrow donor registry drive, hopeful someone who signed up would be a match.
"It makes me feel really, really good to know that people really still care, people care about wanting to help because our story can be their story," Wright said.
The more people who sign up as possible donors on Be the Match registry, the greater the chance patients will find a lifesaving match. . "African-Americans are severely under-represented on the bone marrow donor registry. Where we only make up 8 percent of the donors listed on the donor registry, so there is a dire need to diversify the registry and add more African-Americans to the donor registry," said Rod Gunn of Be the Match Registry.
Cameca Wright hopes efforts like Sunday's drive can help others.
"To continue to get as many people as we can on the bone marrow registry, in addition to they are not saving Valaria's life, they are saving someone else's life," Wright said.
Donors of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are especially critical because patients who need a transplant are most likely to match someone of their own race and ethnicity.