Local news

7-year-old girl needs bone marrow match

Saturday donor registry drive aims to help leukemia patient

London Bowater, 7, is in the fight of her life, and her family is asking the Spokane community for help.

London was diagnosed in 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant to help her survive.

On Saturday, the Spokane Fire Department is hosting a marrow donor registry drive in an effort to find someone who could donate cells for London’s treatment.

London has been undergoing regular chemotherapy treatments at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, said her father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Bowater.

She had a relapse on Jan. 1 that put her back in the hospital.

“She is the strongest person I have ever met,” Bowater said. “She is like a ray of sunshine.”

London continues to muster courage, he said.

“I thought I was going to have to be her rock. She is mine,” he said.

Saturday’s event is being held through the Be the Match organization, which maintains the marrow donor registry.

Two other registry events are planned at Fairchild Air Force Base, where the Bowater family lives, and at their church in Spokane.

No match could be found for London in an initial search of the registry, said Magda Silva, of the Be the Match organization.

“It’s like looking for your genetic twin,” she said.

Potential donors must be 18 to 44 years old. Joining the registry is painless. A quick cheek swab is all it takes.

“I’m expecting a pretty good turnout,” Silva said.

London is a first-grader at Michael Anderson Elementary School at Fairchild, but she had to withdraw from classes because chemotherapy has weakened her immune system, her father said.

She has continued her education with a tutor.

If a match can be found, London will undergo months of hospitalization in Seattle preparing for the transplant and then recovering from it, Bowater said.

He has been stationed at Fairchild since 2010 and serves in the Survival School.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood and is the most common type of cancer in children, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Bone marrow transplants are sought for patients who have had a relapse, according to the institute’s website.

A flier prepared for Saturday’s registry drive said London loves school and enjoys gymnastics, swimming, riding her bike and playing with friends.

“She has a huge heart and is a very caring person who lights up the lives of her family and friends,” the flier said.

Volunteers are being sought to help with the bone marrow registry drive. For more information or to help out, contact Silva at (503) 310-9349 or by email at msilva@nmdp.org.

The Airway Heights Fire Department is holding a marrow registry drive on Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the fire station at 1208 S. Lundstrom St.


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