ARTESIA, CA — A Fil-Am Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer is in desperate need of a bone marrow match from someone of Filipino heritage — and kababayans are doing all they can to come to his aid.
Officer Matt Medina is used to throwing gang members in jail, but lately, he’s been confined in his own home — imprisoned by aplastic anemia, a condition in where his own bone marrow could not generate new blood cells, and weakening his immune system.
The cure is a bone marrow transplant.
As the 7-year Los Angeles police officer tries to recover, his family, friends and fellow officers have been holding bone marrow drives looking for a hero to save his life.
Medina couldn’t find a match within his own family, so his next best hope is to find a match from a Filipino donor.
People from the same ethnic group increase the chances for matches.
However, less than one percent of Filipinos in the US are in the bone marrow registry — the lowest of all ethnicities.
“His spirits are up. If anything, it would be me breaking down when you know, whenever I feel like I need to… but for the most part he’s been good,” said wife Angelee. “We’re all excited and overwhelmed that there’s so many people out there that want to help him out.”
His family and coworkers have been holding bone marrow drives for the past week, including a couple at this Gerry’s Grill Restaurant owned by his cousin, that drove in nearly 150 new registrants.
Doctor Ray Mangune has also been distributing testing kits at his dental clinic.
So far, they’ve collected 500 samples.
“It makes me fee so fulfilled and happy. We’re not just finding a match for Matt. We’re finding a match for anyone that needs it,” said cousin Ray Mangune. “Our community is so underrepresented as far as bone marrow, as far as donors. When one of us gets sick, we all need to pull together.”
Potential donors only need to do a series of simple cheek swabs. Their genetic information is then put into a database, and if they match a patient, only then will they be called in to donate.
The process is similar to drawing blood.
With the community in hot pursuit of any potential match, the Facebook page Match 4 Matt continues to list out many of the upcoming drives, hoping to find that one match that could potentially save this Fil-Am cop’s life.
Even in illness, Officer Medina may still actually play hero. While hundreds have come out to register so far, and many more are expected, the new registrants may not only be a match for him — but some, potentially, a match for other patients.