Escondido Teen in Need of Bone Marrow Transplant: Filipino Community Urged to Help

Chase Riehl, a 14-year-old boy from Escondido, California, has relapsed into cancer after being in remission for a year. His doctors are urgently searching for a bone marrow match, particularly within the Filipino community.

Chase Riehl should be enjoying his teenage years, going to school, and spending time with friends. Instead, he has been battling an aggressive form of acute T-cell leukemia for the past year and a half. After initially being misdiagnosed with a sports injury, Chase’s mother, Sunshine “Sunny” Riehl, pushed for further testing, leading to the devastating diagnosis of leukemia in May 2022. Despite undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant from his mother, Chase’s cancer has returned. Now, his doctors are racing against time to find a suitable bone marrow match, with the hope of giving him a chance at survival.

1. A Mother’s Sacrifice:

Chase’s mother, Sunny Riehl, stepped up as his first bone marrow donor, providing a 50% match. This act of selflessness demonstrates the lengths a parent is willing to go to save their child’s life. However, the fear of the transplant not working looms over the family.

2. The Agonizing Relapse:

After nearly a year of remission, Chase’s bloodwork revealed that his cancer had returned, this time in his spinal fluid and bone marrow. The news came just four days before his 14th birthday. Despite the devastating setback, Chase maintains a resilient attitude, saying, “I got this…we’ve been through it before. I can do it again.”

3. The Challenge of Finding a Treatment:

The relapse has presented new challenges for Chase’s medical team. The key is finding a treatment that his body can tolerate and that the cancer will respond to. Dr. Eric Anderson, Rady Children’s Director of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant, explains that there is no standard of care for relapse after a bone marrow transplant. The medical team is exploring innovative treatments, including additional cells from Chase’s mother’s bone marrow, to eradicate the abnormal cells in his spinal fluid.

4. The Importance of Ethnicity in Finding a Match:

Chase’s ideal bone marrow donor would be someone with a mix of both his ethnic backgrounds—European White and Filipino. However, the National Marrow Donor online registry, “Be The Match,” reports that less than 9% of potential donors in the United States are of Asian descent. This scarcity makes it even more crucial to reach out to the Filipino community and encourage potential donors to come forward.

5. Mobilizing the Filipino Community:

Sunny Riehl is now on a mission to raise awareness within the Filipino community and encourage individuals to see if they are a match for Chase or others in need. By visiting the “Be The Match” website, people can find out if they are eligible to become a donor and potentially save a life. Sunny emphasizes the life-saving impact of bone marrow transplants, stating that Chase would not be alive today without one.

Conclusion:

Chase Riehl’s battle with cancer has taken a devastating turn with his relapse. The urgency to find a bone marrow match within the Filipino community highlights the critical need for more diverse donors. As Chase and his family face another uphill battle, their story serves as a reminder of the power of community support and the potential to save lives through selfless acts of donation.


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