Susie Rabaca found a bone marrow match in November, a month before giving birth to twins

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 02, 2019 04:35 PM
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Susie Rabaca, whose life was saved when she found a bone marrow match as she battled leukemia while pregnant with twins last year, said the deadly disease has returned, leaving her with no choice but to have another transplant.

Rabaca, from Southern California, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia early into her pregnancy in 2018, ABC 7 reported in November. Doctors said she would need a life-saving bone marrow transplant, but despite there being tens of millions of people listed on the worldwide registry of donors, not a single one came up as a match with Rabaca at the time.

While her loved ones were tested to see if they could donate, none came up as the “100 percent” match that was needed for the operation. The donor would need to be half-Latino and half-Caucasian, the same mixed heritage as Rabaca, which proved to be a challenging requirement.

After making pleas online and in the media for help finding a donor, tens of thousands of people were inspired to sign up on the “Be The Match” registry in the days following her story, according to NBC Nightly News. Even country singer Carrie Underwood retweeted Rabaca’s story in the hopes of finding a match.

As the campaign went viral, Rabaca, 36, was finally able to announce a match had been found in late November.

“Oh my god, to me it’s beyond amazing… joy and happiness, it really is,” she told NBC News. “It’s so exciting, it’s the best Christmas gift.”

Rabaca gave birth to her twins, Rainy and Ryan, in December, and had the transplant done a short time later in January.

But the cancer has reappeared, Rabaca told ABC 7 this week, and she is now in need of a second transplant.

“It’s been devastating because I just went through a transplant in January and I relapsed so quick, so I have to find another donor,” Rabaca, a mother of five, told the news station.

“Coming into this the second time, I was very discouraged, but I look at their little faces and know that I have to push for them and my other children,” she said.

Potential donors who would like to be tested can register at Be The Match and possibly save the life of Rabaca or someone else in need of a transplant.