California Mom With Leukemia Gives Birth to Twins While Waiting for Bone Marrow Transplant

December 10, 2018 Updated: December 10, 2018
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A Southern California mom whose journey in fighting leukemia while pregnant went viral has given birth to twins. She shared pictures of the newborns on Dec. 7 and shared her gratitude for finding the perfect match for a bone marrow transplant.

“I would like to introduce my miracle twin babies to all you who prayed for them cared for them asked about them every day,” wrote 36-year-old Susie Rabaca in a Facebook post.

“They are doing great healthy happy and hungry lol. They truly mean the world to me and because of all the support and prayers I got my MATCH and get to LIVE and me the best mommy I can be!”

During her pregnancy, Rabaca was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which is a type of cancer that affects blood cells in bone marrow. Although AML is typically curable, it can be “rapidly fatal within weeks to a few months of diagnosis” if no treatment is given, according to Blueprints Pediatrics.

In 2018, about 60,300 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in the U.S. Of those, about 19,520 cases will be AML, according to the American Cancer Society.

To treat the disease, a bone marrow transplant was needed. However, finding a match was especially difficult for Rabaca as she has a Latino and Caucasian mixed heritage. Her sister was also not a 100% donor match, which in this case is essential for the treatment.

“In order for a blood stem cell transplant to work, you need to find a match who has similar DNA and ancestry to you,” Julie Korinke with Be the Match told ABC 7.

Rabaca turned to Be The Match, who was said operating the largest and most diverse donor registry with 30 million people signed up as potential donors worldwide. But there was still no match for her.

“Finding my match is everything to me, so I can be here for the three children I have, and the two that I have on the way, it’s everything,” Rabaca told Fox 11.

Since then, Rabaca and her family started a special mission encouraging people to join the registry.

“It’s so easy, there’s no painful procedure, there’s no surgery, it’s just swab your mouth and it’s as simple as a blood draw, and you can save somebody’s life, if not mine, somebody else’s,” Rabaca said.

Within a week after she spread the words and her story, almost 40,000 people registered as potential donors at the Be The Match registry. Officials said it was a record-breaking number.

On Nov. 28, Rebeca was informed a potential match for her was found.

“With tears running down my face and my heart full of hope I want to say thank you Lord,” Rabaca wrote in her Facebook. “Thank you to my family, friends, people around the country that I don’t even know that have shown support and especially that have signed up for Be The Match.”

“Only 3 percent of our registry is mixed ethnicity and so it can be really difficult to find a matching donor,” Julie Kornike, of BeTheMatch.org, told ABC 7. “The fact that we have identified a potential match for her is really exciting.”

Rabaca, now a mother of five, will soon receive the bone-marrow transplant.