A Valley group is coming together to try to find a bone marrow match for a 5-year-old girl in Alameda, California, who is suffering from a rare genetic disorder.
It could be an uphill battle, because people who have her genetic type aren’t represented in the worldwide registry.
Norah Gratz-Lazarus loves to dance and play with her brother Ellis.
You’d never know it, but underneath all the fun, she’s suffering from a life-threatening disease.
"Norah was diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia four or five months ago," her father, Zachary Lazarus said. "It’s a rare genetic condition."
The condition is common among Ashkenazi Jews, a population from Eastern Europe. It impacts Norah’s ability to make new blood cells. Her family comes from that Jewish population.
Norah’s mom Rachel did genetic testing while she was pregnant, but it didn’t show anything.
When Norah was a baby, she started losing her hearing. That’s when doctors discovered she would need a bone marrow transplant to stay healthy.
"I think the word bone marrow is hard;” her mom, Rachel said. “It’s something hard for people to wrap their mind around… sounds like something invasive and intrusive, but it’s not."
Since December 1st, 3,500 people have signed up to help Norah find a match. It starts with a simple, painless cheek swab.
“Download an app, you answer a few questions, your name, your history and then you fill out this form, swab your mouth and stick it in the mail,” said Masha Rimler, who is bringing people together at Chabad of the East Valley to take part in the mission. “You know we’re all just one big family, so we’re doing the best that we can to try to reach out to as many Jewish people and get them enrolled in the bone marrow drive.
Norah is aware she needs to keep her blood healthy.
“Blood is healthy, but… well in the future, mine is not,” she said.
She even has a website, norahneedsyou.com. Her mom says her life literally depends on the generosity of strangers.
“This kind of donation is something that I would feel comfortable, being a mother of two children to do, because I’m not going to suffer afterwards, all I can do is help,” said Rimler.
Thousands of people are showing support for Norah and her family across the country.
Norah’s dad tells 12 News they’ve received an overwhelming response.
The goal is 10,000 swabs, but ultimately, as many as it takes to find the match. The drive in Chandler is happening all week. For more information click here.