ATLANTA - A metro Atlanta teen who has sickle cell has been searching for a bone marrow donor for years. There's now a major effort underway to help him find a match. He's even getting a little help from a professional athlete.
Joshua Biyoyouwei has sickle cell anemia. The blood disorder caused him to have a stroke when he was 18 months old that left him partially paralyzed. Every month since then he has to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion.
"It's a tough journey to watch your child go through this every month," said his mother, Vera Johnson.
Joshua has been waiting for a bone marrow donor since 2014.
"Unfortunately a lot of African American people don't go out and donate. In order for him to find a match, the likely chance would be with an African American person.
Milwaukee Bucks player Jrue Holiday has a close friend with sickle cell. He's now encouraging more people to get tested and get on the registry.
"This is a time for us to step up as a community, as the African American community to truly support each other," said Holiday.
When holiday found out Joshua was a big basketball fan, he wanted to meet him. Holiday asked about Joshua's health and what he was going through. He was also impressed with Joshua's strength when he flexed his muscles.
Joshua's mom is hoping Holiday's star power will encourage others to become bone marrow donors.
"Go out, get tested. You never know who you'll match. It might be Joshua it might be another child who needs it," said Johnson.
The Be The Match Registry set up a drive-thru cheek swabbing event this coming Tuesday, April 27th, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Maynard Jackson High School in Joshua’s honor.
Be The Match also encourages anyone ages 18-44 years old to sign up to join the registry by texting SaveJoshua to 61474 or by visiting https://join.bethematch.org/savejoshua and Be The Match will mail a cheek swab kit to their home.
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