Family pleads for help to save teen's life - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Family pleads for help to save teen's life

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - A decade ago the island community came together to help little Justice Taitague, who was battling a rare form of leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life. Her story led a movement to start the first bone marrow drive on the island.

Residents are being asked yet again to take five minutes of their time to help save a life.

From the looks of her, it's hard to know that this beautiful, vibrant 16-year-old with a smile that lights up a room is fighting a disease that just killed a close relative a few short weeks ago. Alyssa Paulino was diagnosed less than one month ago with myelo dysplastic syndrome (MDS). Her mother Leslie said, "She didn't cry or anything. But I knew there and then that she was very terrified and devastated. She had so many mixed emotions and I could see it right through her face."

"I'm just taking it day by day," Alyssa stated.

Alyssa is being closely monitored and undergoing regular testing while she is here. She must return to Los Angeles for more treatment later this month. The teen must wear a mask all the time because she is prone to fevers and infection that could be life threatening.

"No words can explain what we have gone through these past months," Leslie added. You see, last week she and Alyssa's father, Steven, did what no parent ever wants to do - bury their only son, Steven, Jr. who was only 11 years old.

Steven was also diagnosed with MDS. Leslie continued, "His immune system was very low so he couldn't fight anything.  All the antibiotics they gave him just didn't help him." Everyday I get on the pavement and I pray asking the Lord to take the sickness away from my son and give it to me because my son hasn't even started a life."

Soon after learning that his sister shared the same illness, Steven Jr's condition progressed into leukemia and he died several days later. He and the family had been in L.A. for a bone marrow transplant because Alyssa was the perfect match for her brother. Steven Sr. said the family is, "Grieving for our son but the at the same time helping her. It's really a lot of pressure on us."

While the grieving process continues, the family has shifted its focus and energy to saving Alyssa's life and finding her a perfect match. "From a mother to a mother I'm asking that people come out and help us because if it could be a related donor then we have our entire family that is willing to but because it has to be a non related donor, I know there are a lot of people on this island. I just want to be able to help my daughter so she can be given the chance to survive the transplant and live a very healthy life," Leslie added. "Not everyone has a chance to do that and my son is one of them."

And the beauty of it all is you could be the person who could save Alyssa's life and help this teen have a fighting chance to grow up and accomplish her dream of helping others as she aspires to be a doctor or a nurse.

Alyssa said, "If you can please come out and support me and help save my life."

You can help Alyssa and others across the nation who are in need of a bone marrow transplant by visiting the bone marrow drive on August 24-25 at the Guam Premier Outlets in Tamuning.

Those five minutes could just save a life.

"I'm staying positive and being strong," Alyssa promised.

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