SAN DIEGO — A local 8th grader has a different kind of holiday wish this season — he just wants a chance to fight for his life.
Chase Riehl, now 14-years-old, has faced an ongoing battle with leukemia for the last couple of years. After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease, his childhood journey to remission began, family friend Katie Burk told FOX 5.
Leukemia is a broad term for cancers of the blood cells, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) explained. The disease affects blood-forming tissues, including bone marrow.
It’s also the most common cancer in children younger than the age of 15, NCI noted.
Chase went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and then he received a bone marrow transplant from his mother, Sunshine Riehl. She was only a 50% match — the best they could find in the Be The Match database, Burk explained.
Operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), Be The Match is a diverse bone marrow registry that helps those with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia find matches for cellular therapy.
Following the transplant, Chase entered remission in October 2022. Sadly, his health took a turn last month. The 8th grader returned to the doctor with nausea and abnormal bruising.
Doctors at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego determined his leukemia had returned. Even worse, they said it was “one of the most aggressive cases” of T-cell acute leukemia they had ever seen.
“His best shot at beating cancer is a 100% bone marrow match and we need your help,” said Burk.
Chase is about 75% white (French, German, English) and about 25% Filipino. As it turns out, Be The Match is currently grappling with a disproportionately low number of Filipino donors.
“This shortage significantly reduces the chances of finding compatible matches for Filipino patients, putting their lives, and Chase’s life, at risk,” Burk stated. “Chase needs people of Filipino heritage to join the Be the Match registry to survive.”
The family is asking those in San Diego who may have a similar ethnicity profile to consider joining the registry and donating blood stem cells to save help Chase continue his fight for life, as well as others dealing with similar illnesses.
To find out if you can help Chase, text TEAMCHASE to 61474 or scan the QR code on the flyer below: