Hundreds line up to see if they can help Charlotte County boy who needs bone marrow transplant

A Christmas miracle could be in store for one little boy in Southwest Florida.

Eight-year-old Jakobe “Kobe” Washington is battling leukemia and chemo isn’t working. His life is now in the hands of someone who has the right bone marrow.

WINK News first introduced you to Kobe last week as the family issued a plea to find a bone marrow donor to save the Charlotte County boy’s life. Kobe is Black, which makes the chances of finding the right donor even slimmer. African Americans seeking a bone marrow transplant have about a 23 percent chance of finding donors, compared to 41 percent for people who are Asian and Pacific Islander, 46 percent for Hispanic or Latino people and 77 percent for white people.

Photo courtesy of family

But a “swab” drive-up was held Thursday to hopefully find Kobe’s match – and save his life.

His family was ecstatic with the turnout; more than 400 people signed up online for the drive, and the people running it said they were expecting to swab more than 500 people.

Sheriff’s deputies and others started lining up early at Charlotte County Sports Park to try and “Be the Match.” The drive was scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, but cars were still pulling in as the drive’s end neared.

While Kobe stayed home Thursday, his parents and extended family were at the drive – and the turnout, for them, was beyond belief.

“This is amazing; like I prayed for this, but I couldn’t imagine it would be this many people that came out to support. Like the line is to the road at all times, it’s been like this since we started this morning,” said Imeria Price, Kobe’s mom.

“Everybody that’s here for us, it really opens your eyes and lets you know that there is people out there, good people out there that’s here for you and that means a lot to us, you know, me and my family,” said Jordan Washington, Kobe’s dad.

“What Kobe did by inviting his community to come out and register for his life is going to change how African-Americans see the registry,” said Debiann McIntosh, community engagement specialist with Be the Match, which matches patients with donors who can give lifesaving bone marrow.

And while everyone who showed up Thursday was there for Kobe, they could end up helping other people if they can’t match with Kobe.

So many people suffering, so many people need help, right? And the only way we’re gonna get things back right is lending our hand to each other,” said Gerald Anderson, who was among those getting swabbed at the event.

Kobe and his parents are making the most of every day, praying that they’ll have their Christmas wish come true.

“I believe in a miracle, I believe there’s miracles out there, and I believe that, you know, my son is going to be the living witness of a miracle,” Washington said.

If you weren’t able to make it to the drive to be swabbed, you can also go to bethematch.org to register to potentially save Kobe’s life or the life of anyone who is looking for a match.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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