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Little Boy Battling Leukemia On South Coast Sparks Effort To Get More People On Bone Marrow Registry

He’s a tiny little guy, just years old, but the Newbury Park boy has already spent more time in hospitals than most of us well in our lifetimes.

Three months ago, Pierce Kelly was your average little preschooler, full of enough energy to keep his mother Aubrey and father Tyler more than busy. All that changed in March, when Kelly became sick. Pierce had leukemia.

After being initially diagnosed at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks on April 7th, he was rushed to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which has special facilities and staff to deal with pediatric cancer.

Aubrey Kelly says that weekend was a tough one for her, and her husband. The following Monday he was diagnosed with a specific form of leukemia. Once they identified it, they started weeks of treatment, including two rounds of chemotherapy. He now needs a bone marrow transplant.

Unfortunately, no one in Pierce’s family is a match for a transplant. He has a four year old sister, Sierra, and a three month old sister, Harper. The family had to turn to the Marrow registry for help, a non-profit international effort to match donors, with those in need. Fortunately, they’ve found potential matches in Spain and Germany, and his doctors are trying to narrow down the best donor.

After undergoing his two rounds of chemotherapy, Pierce just came home to Newbury Park from the Los Angeles hospital for the first time in more than two months. He’ll get to stay at home until his doctors decide he’s ready for the transplant procedure.

The Kellys have a special appreciation for efforts to fight cancer. They both work at Thousand Oaks based Amgen, which makes a number of cancer fighting drugs. But, Aubrey Kelly admits she never imagined that the disease would hit so close to home, with one of her children.

The Kellys say as hard as all this has been, they are grateful to have a match for their son. They’re speaking out because they met other families facing the same crisis who haven’t found their matches yet. Aubrey Kelly says to pay it forward, they are trying to get new people into the “BeTheMatch” registry.

Becoming a part of the registry is now as simple as signing up online, and getting a free home kit sent to you. You swipe your cheek with a cotton swab, and send it in for testing to be added to the registry.

The Kellys say Pierce has been a little trooper in dealing with everything he’s faced. And, they are grateful that he has a match, one which will give him the chance to go on with a life he’s really just beginning

"Be A Match" website:  bethematch.org

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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