HANALEI (KHON2) — A Hawaii man is asking for help finding a match to help battle leukemia, and his friend is doing his part to help with a giant megaphone.
Travis Snyder is a part-time Kauai resident, who recently — and surprisingly, found out that some of his best matches might be on the islands with Asian or Pacific Islanders.
Snyder was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia back in 2015.
“They did a lot of chemotherapy on me and we kind of crossed our fingers that that would be enough,” Snyder said.
It was for some time. Travis spent three years in remission, but cancer came back. A blood stem cell donation from his brother put him into remission for a second time for another three years.
“During each remission, we go live in our house on Kauai,” Snyder said. “They don’t have the medical sort of support that UCLA does so and then last spring, got another bad result after about another three years and I’m back in the fight.”
While spending those precious moments in his second home of Hawaii, Travis met global movie star and Hawaii native, Jason Momoa. The two quickly formed a bond.
“We just hit it off. I mean, I just, I love him so much,” Snyder said.
Momoa has thrown his weight into Snyder’s fight to beat leukemia again, sharing with his 17.1 million Instagram followers in July: “Thousands of you have swabbed your cheek which we are so grateful for, but we still need more for Travis and the other patients. My birthday is coming up and all I want is for you to be a hero and hit the link in bio and join the registry.”
The posts have been something that has given Snyder hope as he continues the arduous wait for a match.
“Throughout the ups and downs the periods of health with me he’s been there for me, such a busy guy now but he’s totally there for me and I just know he wants to help,” Snyder said.
Travis now needs all of the help he can get from back home.
According to the organization, Be the Match, Asian and Pacific Islanders have a 47% chance of finding a match, as opposed to 79% for those with a white ethnic background. Little did Snyder know that Be the Match would bring him back to Hawaii.
“They went deeper analyzing my sort of genetic code to figure out where would be the best place to do a drive to find a match and I kind of thought it would be, you know a different place,” Snyder laughed, thinking his match would be European. “Their researchers said, my most dominant HLA characteristic was that of a Polynesian.”
Now Snyder is planning donation drives on the islands this fall. He continues to fight for his three sons, his wife and all the other people looking for a match.
“There’s some children right now and they don’t have a match of Hawaiian descent. And I just feel such an urgency and such a care to populate that registry,” Snyder said.