Donor drive held for 16-year-old who needs bone marrow transplant

Posted at: 05/19/2014 6:40 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A New Mexico teenager with a life-threatening blood disease is getting help from her community and police department.

The more help she gets, the better her chances are of surviving.

16-year-old Miquela Martinez is currently in a Lubbock, TX, hospital awaiting a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

She was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinura in November of 2013. The autoimmune disease attacks blood products produced in her bone marrow. She also suffers from severe Aplastic Anemia which is simply described as bone marrow failure. 

“In a nutshell her body is fighting itself,” said Leah Sena.

She says her cousin's only hope is to get a bone marrow transplant.

In an effort to help save her life, Santa Fe Police hosted a donor registry drive at the main police station more than 100 community members who turned out to see if they could be the genetic match needed to save Miquela.

Strangers, like Sara Headley came to help.

“I would want somebody to do this for my child if it were the case,” she said, hopefully never."

Only one in every 540 donors is a likely match so finding one won't be easy but luckily testing for one is easy - just a quick mouth swab.

It didn't hurt, it didn’t bother, it was quick and easy and it could save a life,” said Jennifer Munoz.

City employees, community members, at least 30 SFPD officers, area law enforcement, and residents from as far away as Espanola, Chimayo and even Taos had their mouths swabbed. Participants’ DNA will be entered into the national database and compared to those in need of transplants. It could take about two weeks to see if this drive will result in a match for Miquela or others on the list.

Even if there is no match for Miquela, there could be a match for someone else.

Her family says saving another life is something Miquela is proud of.

“Miquela is a beautiful, smart, young, and gorgeous 16-year-old,” Sena said, she is so giving, caring and loving.”

Martinez’s family is hosting additional donor drives (donors must be ages 18-44):

Saturday, May 24th

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Acts 242 Fellowship Chaparral Center – 9307 Candelaria NE, Albuquerque

Residents unable to participate can go to and request a donor kit be sent to their home.

If you are a match, there are two ways to donate bone marrow. One is similar to giving blood and doctors are able to take the cells from a simple donation. The other, used in only about 15 percent of cases, requires needle extraction through the hip.