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URGENT: Hispanic Donors Needed For Local Dad Fighting Cancer

Merlo Weiss, 45, is seeking a compatible bone marrow or stem cell donor as he fights for his life at the John Theurer Cancer Center. Photo Credit: Contributed
Merlo Weiss, right, with his husband and 9-year-old son. Photo Credit: Contributed

A national search is being conducted for a local dad and patient in HackensackUMC's John Theurer Cancer Center in need of a stem cell/bone marrow donor.

A stay-at-home father to a nine-year-old son, Merlo Weiss, 45,  is fighting acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He is searching for a Hispanic donor because matches are associated with ancestry.

To help his mission, his husband David has teamed up with the Gift of Life Marrow Registry and they are conducting an urgent national search for Merlo’s donor.

More than 190 donors have enlisted and over $11,000 have been raised, but time is running out.

*** To get tested and see if you are a match, CLICK HERE to register and request a swab testing kit. You do not necessarily need to be Chilean, just Hispanic to have the highest likelihood of being a suitable match. ***

There are several ways to get involved, including joining the registry, holding a donor drive, making a financial contribution, or simply sharing Merlo’s story for more awareness.

A Chilean-American, Merlo is a father, husband, vigorous traveler, avid tennis player, son, good and a "beautiful human being," his cousin Viviana Jara Avila said.

"Our Merlo’s life is at stake, and we can only ask for your support so that you can save him with your valuable act of love," she said.

"Before explaining the procedure that may save my cousin, I will tell you that only about 30 percent of people in need of a transplant can find a compatible donor within their immediate family members. The remaining 70 percent of people, doctors need to find a compatible bone marrow donor outside the family. Merlo is within this 70 percent."

The donation of stem cells or bone marrow is simple and nearly painless, Avila said.

The test includes a cheek swab for tissue typing, and if you are found to be compatible with Merlo, you may be called to donate stem cells or bone marrow.

The transplant is a simple outpatient procedure, does not involve any health risk to you, is mostly painless, and can save Merlo’s life. If you are not Merlo’s match, you may be the lifesaving match for another patient in need.

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