Dozens of cars and perhaps hundreds of people arrived at a New Haven school this morning with the goal of helping find a bone marrow match for a young girl from Summit, New Jersey.
Jackie Erb, 5, is one of three children in her family. She has a 7-year-old sister Olivia and a twin named Addison.
“She’s such a sweetheart. She has just such an infectious laugh,” said Jackie’s father, Brian Erb.
Dozens Come Out to Help 5-Year-Old With Leukemia in New Haven
Jackie, though, is facing a very difficult battle. In December, she was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML); it is a rare form of leukemia. Since the diagnosis, life has been incredibly challenging for the Erbs.
“It’s been a very crazy last month or so that we’ve gotten through,” explained Brian Erb. “Kind of unimaginable.”
Jackie is undergoing chemotherapy to slow the growth but, unfortunately, that will not be a cure. She needs a bone marrow transplant.
“With (JMML), chemotherapy doesn’t seem to work so the bone marrow transplant is the only option for her,” explained Jackie’s uncle, Christopher Erb, who is a medical doctor with Yale New Haven Health.
Searching for a match, a drive-thru bone marrow donor registry event was held Saturday at New Haven’s Elm City Montessori School & Friends Center for Children.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, there was a steady stream of people.
“Even on a cold day like today, it’s been really wonderful to see so many people coming out to support our cause,” said Christopher.
Coordinated by “Be the Match” and the Icla Da Silva Foundation, a simple cheek swab was all that was asked. So, cars lined with open windows and open hearts.
“[Jackie’s situation] makes me want to do anything I can to help someone else because I would want the same thing for my family,” said Julie West, one of those who volunteered to be tested.
All who participated today will have their sample entered into the national registry of donors. If not a match for Jackie, the hope is they're a match for someone else.
“Many patients, thousands of patients each year, are looking for that one person to match them and hopefully someone here today,” said "Be The Match" Community Engagement Specialist Natasha Mincy.
As for Jackie, there is good news. She’s completed her first round of chemo and was released from the Morristown Hospital on Friday.
If a match is found, her uncle said her family will move temporarily to Philadelphia for treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“[Jackie’s] also a tough cookie,” said her father. “I married a wonder-woman and have three daughters who are wonder women.”