San Antonio police Det. Tony Barasa (pictured), who has been struggling to fight a form of leukemia for four months, received huge support from the law enforcement community when police Chief William McManus and Sheriff Susan Pamerleau made a plea for bone marrow donors.
The request is a familiar one to viewers of ABC’s Robin Roberts, who also launched a nationwide campaign to encourage people of all races and ethnicities to register as donors with the Bone Marrow Registry.
San Antonio is in a unique position in the quest, since it is home to many Hispanics, a group that only makes up 10 percent of the registry, yet carries a high demand for donors.
Yvonne Ybarra is the director of the Marrow Donor Program at South Texas Blood and Tissue Center.
“The truth of the matter is that only 30 percent of patients who are diagnosed with a blood cancer will find a match in their families. and the 70 percent who don't find a match look to the match registry for a donor," she said.
On the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse on Thursday, McManus said of his valued employee, “Tony's got leukemia and he's not doing real well. He's got kids, he's got a wife, he's great family man (and) he needs blood marrow donors."
The thought was echoed by Pamerleau, who noted that Barasa once was a sheriff’s deputy and that his brother currently works for the office.
“Even though they may not match Tony Barasa, they'll match someone else,” she said.
A recent registry drive at the office brought 65 new potential donors into the system, a good addition for people waiting such as Barasa.
That is because Barasa is among those who have not found a relative who matched, so has undergone a cord blood transplant to extend his life.
The procedure was performed in Houston, where the blood cells of an umbilical cord are transfused to strengthen a patient.
The 45-year-old father and husband still needs a donor however to survive.
Jason Cox, local founder of the Marrow Me organization that travels nationwide to promote awareness about the ease and simplicity of registering, notes that without a transplant at the age of nine, he would have died.
“It's not painful. It's just for lack of education (or a) lack of awareness, they are not getting on the registry. It's something that is very simple to do," he said.
For more information on how to join the registry, contact www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/southtexas.
For more information on Marrow Me, take a look at the Marrow Me Facebook page.