Young Filipina stem cell recipient calls on more bone marrow donors to help save lives

SAN FRANCISCO — 15-year-old Filipina American, Myla Cunanan, was blowing out her birthday cake — but this cake only has five candles.

Myla is celebrating five years since she got a life-saving stem cell transplant, helping her fight against a rare form of cancer.

Her wish was for more people to sign up to become bone marrow donors.

“It’s very important to register because you can save anyone’s life and it’s very nice to give back and help and you never who you can match [with].”

Myla’s mother, Leyla, said there some difficult times since her daughter’s diagnosis — but they stayed strong.

“We never lose hope and faith. Our trust in God never wavered,” she said.

Currently, Myla receives dialysis treatment three times a week — and according to the hospital staff, her optimism could always be felt.

“Myla’s always had a positive attitude which has to do with her mother who’s always by her side at dialysis and her brother and sister and father and her community, her faith community,” said Adrienne Esguerra.

Myla has gained enough strength now to live her life and enjoy it.

“She sings in the choir. She helps with the local congregation’s secretaries. And she loves to cook. She loves to cook Filipino food. But overall she’s doing great.”

Myla’s family said they are committed to helping more families find donor matches.

According to the Asian American Donor Program: to successfully match with a recipient, one must be of the same ethnicity — but Filipinos only make up less than one percent of the national registry.

Becoming a potential donor is a simple process — first, you get a free swab kit.

“After you register it takes about 5-7 days to receive your cheek swab but after that, you do the cheek swab in less than a minute and send it back to us and that’ll be all,” said Jaung Kim

For those interested in becoming a donor, text ‘Myla’ to the number 61474 — or you can check the Asian American Donor Program website.

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