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Pregnant Mom With Cancer to Public: 'You Can Save My Life'

Susie Rabaca, due with twins Dec. 6, needs 100% marrow match for aggressive leukemia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2018 9:15 AM CST
A cell therapy specialist prepares stem cells from bone marrow before they're transplanted into a patient on Aug. 31, 2016, at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Newser) – Susie Rabaca needs a "perfect" match. That's what the Southern California mother of three, who is pregnant with twins, is desperately seeking in her quest to find a bone marrow donor, People reports. Rabaca, who's due to give birth Dec. 6, has acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer that starts in the bone marrow and can spread rapidly to the blood and other parts of the body. Rabaca discovered she had leukemia when she wasn't feeling well earlier in her pregnancy and went to the doctor, she tells WABC. Because the cancer is so severe, however, a 100% bone marrow match is needed—a fact complicated by Rabaca's genetic makeup (she's half Caucasian, half Latino).

"For a blood stem cell transplant to work, you need to find a match who has similar DNA and ancestry to you," says a rep from the Be a Match marrow donor program, adding that even with 30 million people on the global marrow registry, not one syncs up with Rabaca. Even her own sister was only a 50% match. Rabaca and her family have been racing against the clock, promoting the registry on social media and imploring people to sign up. ABC7 says nearly 40,000 people have registered since it aired Rabaca's story on Thursday—a record-breaking number. "It's a simple swab of your cheek. If you are my match, then it's a simple blood draw. … You can save my life," she says. In the meantime, Rabaca tells FOX 11 her family is keeping her strong. "My 4-year-old, she just holds my hand, grabs my bald head … she's my little rock," she says. (This mom wouldn't treat her brain tumor until she gave birth.)

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