HIGH POINT, N.C. -- “I’m watching my son die.”
Zerita Terrell fights back tears as she talks about her son’s struggles with sickle cell disease.
"Last year, my baby spent five months in the hospital,” she said.
Her son, 16-year-old Dionte Terrell, experiences chronic pain.
"My pain is usually in my legs and my back. It hurts so bad I can't even explain it,” he said.
Dionte also has liver disease and persistent asthma. He has lost his spleen and gallbladder to sickle cell disease.
Nonetheless, the Terrell family is holding onto hope.
A “Be The Match” swab event was held in Dionte’s honor at the Carl Chavis YMCA in High Point.
The event was a way to help Dionte and others connect with a bone marrow match.
"For a patient that is searching for a marrow transplant, it isn't a blood type match, it’s a tissue type match,” Betsie Letterle, community engagement representative at Be The Match, said.
A simple cheek swab collects stem cells used for adding people to the bone marrow registry.
The challenge is often getting minorities added to the list.
"While the registry is 13 million strong, only 7 percent of the registry is African-American,” Letterle said.
The Terrell family remains optimistic about finding a match.
"I don't believe God brought us this far to let us down,” Zerita Terrell said.
Visit the Be The Match website for more information on how to become a donor.