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Two-year-old with leukemia travels to Charlotte from Puerto Rico to find a bone marrow donor

CHARLOTTE — Two-year-old Edgar Mateo arrived from Puerto Rico to Charlotte on Saturday with his mother in hopes of finding a transplant donor for his aggressive case of leukemia.

Mateo was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia three months ago on the island after months of being in and out of the emergency room.

His mother, Neishannie Marrero, spoke to Telemundo reporter Jorge Velez about the moment she first found out her son had cancer.

“In that moment, I said to myself ‘What do they mean leukemia? What is that?’ I never thought it would be that. I never thought it could be,” Marrero said.

The race against time started for Mateo that day and doctors recommended Marrero bring him to the United States to receive treatment.

Marrero quit her job as a teacher in Puerto Rico and came to Charlotte to start Edgar’s treatment.

The mother and son are staying at the Ronald McDonald House while Edgar waits for a donor, and she says she’s been surprised by how positive Edgar has been throughout his cancer treatment.

“The doctors and I were truly surprised over Edgar’s reaction to the treatment because he acted so calm, as if nothing was happening. Thank God,” said Marrero.

Mateo even invited Velez to go down the slide with him when he was on the playground.

Kristin Young with the Ronald McDonald House said the organization tries to support families who have come such a long way to find help.

“Families like Edgar’s that come here, that travel great distances, we provide that home for them, that hot meal, that warm bed, that meal, that shower, anything that they need to make themselves comfortable,” said Young.

Mateo turns three years old on Saturday as he continues to fight the hardest battle of his short life.

The cost of his treatment is estimated to be over $140,000 at Levine Children’s Hospital, but Marrero says she has to pay $35,000 by the end of the month if she isn’t able to receive a Medicare plan.

Marrero started a GoFundMe to help her cover the medical expenses.

Marrero also had a message to share for other parents in her position.

“If anyone else is going through something like this, the best thing they can do is hold onto God and have faith that everything will be OK and everything happens for a reason,” Marrero said.

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