Austin Woman Struggles To Find A Bone Marrow Match Because She’s Biracial

Close-up of surgical equipment in tray on table against surgeons at operating room

Austin Woman Struggles To Find A Bone Marrow Match Because She’s Biracial

Lizzie Tennyson needs a racially mixed donor.

Published November 14th

Written by Angela Wilson

Lizzie Tennyson, from Austin, Texas, is in need of a bone marrow transplant but is facing difficulty because she’s biracial. 

According to Be The Match, a non-profit organization that conducts research to improve transplant outcomes and provide support and resources for patients, African-Americans have a 23% chance of finding a match. 

But 21-year-old Tennyson has less than a 14% chance of finding a match because she’s biracial. An ideal donor for Tennyson would also be biracial.

Tennyson, who was recently accepted into her dream school, the University of Texas, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 13 years old. Instead of starting classes this fall, she was forced to drop out after her cancer returned for the fifth time, according to KVUE

"It keeps mutating, it keeps coming back, and it's on me. It just sucks," said Lizzie. "There's definitely those moments where I'm thinking, 'Why does this keep happening to me?'"

According to KCEN-TV, she’s currently undergoing chemotherapy to combat the cancer, but Tennyson’s doctors say a bone marrow transplant is her only hope of beating the cancer for good.

“I’ve been, I guess, blessed to be able to have multiple options for treatment,” said Tennyson. “But I’m running out of options, and I don’t know how many more chances I’m going to get.”

Tennyson’s biological dad is white and her mom is African-American. She was adopted at 12 years old. 

"I thought I'd never get a chance to be a mom, and when I got her and I saw how precious this child was... I cannot imagine losing that before it's time," said her mother, Susan Tennyson. "I can't comprehend it. No. There's no me without her. There's no world without her. I can't, I can't go there."

The Dell Children's Medical Center is hosting a Donor Registry Drive for her on Friday, November 15. 

“We definitely want to encourage everyone to come and swab, and even if you’re not biracial, just come and swab on Friday with us,” said Brenda Garza, of GenCure and Be The Match.

Those of the same mixed race are asked to stop by Dell Children's Medical Center at 4900 Mueller Blvd for a quick, 10-second cheek swab. 

The drive will take place on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone who cannot attend the event can see if they could be a match by registering either online or by texting "Lizzie" to 61474.

Photo: Morsa Images

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