When 8-year-old Rushi asked to join the basketball team with his friends last spring, his doctors told him it was too dangerous. When he asked about soccer or running, the answer was the same—“No.”
Diagnosed with beta thalassemia major before birth, Rushi has made countless trips to the hospital and needs blood transfusions every three weeks. He’s at risk of organ failure, and physical activity puts him at risk of rupturing his enlarged spleen.
Rushi excels in school, attends math enrichment classes, and pursues his passion for sports cars, but he really wants to play sports with his friends.
“It’s getting to him,” explains his mother, Nilima. “I see him playing on the computer trying to forget he can’t do what other kids can because of his condition.”
The need to find a match
Rushi’s best hope for a cure is a blood stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, there is currently no genetic match for Rushi on the Be The Match Registry.
Rushi parents are from India, so he’s most likely to match a donor who shares his South Asian ancestry. But of the 20 million potential donors on the Be The Match Registry, less than 300,000—or only 1.3%—identify as South Asian. Currently, South Asian patients only have a 38% chance of finding a match. Adding more South Asian members ups the odds, to help give patients like Rushi hope for a healthy future.
“Now that he’s older Rushi understands why he doesn’t have the energy to do things, but his anxiety on transfusion days is very high,” Nilima said. “We tell him he has to be strong, but most of all, we just want him to find a donor so he can be healthy.”
Join the registry today to help patients like Rushi.