MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man recently diagnosed with leukemia celebrated graduation from dentistry school Friday morning, and now that he's got the diploma, he just needs a stem cell donor.
Just as Randy Bagay rounded the corner to reach the finish line and become a dentist, the race got even tougher. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia on his daughter Heidi's second birthday.
"We weren't sure if he was going to be able to graduate," said his wife, Abby Bagay. "He was diagnosed on March 12."
Before he gets to work as a dentist, first he needs a donor — likely, someone of Filipino descent.
"A Filipino patient would have less than a 40 percent chance of finding a donor because the donor pool is so small," said Brian Allison with Be the Match, the national marrow donor program.
What's the key to finding a cure? Getting more people to join the database.
You just go online to join.bethematch.org/wreg. It's simple, it's free, and a simple mouth swab puts a potential donor in the database and moves this family one step closer to continuing life.
"That person would essentially become a part of me," Randy said.