LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 3-year-old boy who was abandoned by his biological parents as an infant and suffers from a rare blood disease has found a home, but is still searching for a blood donor to aid his medical recovery.
Nishmeth De Jesus, a nurse’s assistant at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, adopted Angelo about a year ago, giving the boy a permanent home for the first time since he was abandoned at the hospital when he was just one-month old.
But Angelo still faces significant medical challenges. He was born with HLH, a rare blood disease accompanied by life-threatening immunodeficiency.
“Children who have this can not fight off infections,” said Dr. Thomas Hofstra, a pediatric hemotologist who has been working to find Angelo a bone marrow match. “Their immune system works overtime to attack different parts of their body.”
Angelo recently suffered a relapse of the disease. But Hofstra and De Jesus hope a donor can be found in time for Angelo to receive a transplant when the disease is in remission.
“He deserves a chance for more life,” De Jesus said. “If we can find a match, I know that will give him that opportunity.”
Angelo is of mixed ethnic backgrounds, which has made finding that match difficult. Finding a donor in his biological family is not currently an option.
“We don’t have his family right now,” De Jesus said. “So we need someone else.”
De Jesus is no stranger herself to adversity. She was abandoned as 15-year-old with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was forced into the foster care system.
Adopting Angelo was just an extension of her desire to help out wherever she can.
“I always try to give back,” she said. “That’s why I work here. I decided I would adopt because someone took care of me.”
Hofstra said prospective donors can be tested with a simple swab or a blood test and that donating blood marrow is less invasive than commonly believed.
“He deserves a chance at life like everybody deserves a chance,” he said.
To enter into Be The Match’s registry click here.