• 8-year-old Gastonia girl needs bone marrow donor to fight cancer for 3rd time

    By: Tenikka Smith

    Updated:

    GASTONIA, N.C. - Eight-year-old Lauren Turner of Gastonia is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor as she battles cancer for the third time. Her family talked to Channel 9 about how you can help in her brave fight.

    Lauren is at Levine Children's Hospital undergoing chemotherapy.  She was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2010.

    Her older sister, Hailey, was 10 years old when she donated bone marrow to Lauren in September 2010. Lauren relapsed in April 2011and got another treatment with her sister's blood. After nearly two strong years, the cancer returned last month.

    "This time she struggled a little more with it because she knows, she knows what's coming,” her mom, Kristie Turner, said.

    This time around, doctors hope to cure Lauren by finding a different bone marrow match.

    "I have a little Native American in my background, so that's making it a little challenging to find a match,” her dad, Ritchie Turner, said.

    Minorities make up a fraction of the 10.5 million people on the national marrow donor registry. Only 115,000 people are of Native American descent -- that's just one percent. That’s why Lauren's family and Be the Match are appealing for you to join the registry.

    "We are the cure, and we can only cure people when we have a match,” said Addie Sanders with the Charlotte office of Be the Match.

    All it takes to join is a simple swab of the inside of your cheek.  It’s a small step that could save a life.

    "You're helping a mom that shouldn't have to do this, a (mom) that shouldn't have to go through this,” Kristie Turner said.

    You must be between 18 and 44 years old to become a donor. The first bone marrow drive for Lauren is this Sunday at Forest Pointe Church in Belmont from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

    There will also be bone marrow drives on:

    • March 2 at Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church in Concord from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    • March 8 at Queens Sports Complex at Marion Diehl Park in Charlotte, sponsored by Queens University men’s lacrosse team, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    • March 14 at Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    For more information on how you can become a bone marrow donor, click here.

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