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Georgia teen needs public's help to find bone marrow donor, battles severe sickle cell disease

14-year-old Joshua Biyoyouwei is battling severe sickle cell disease, which has left him partially paralyzed following a stroke at the age of 18 months.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A local teen and his family are looking for a bone marrow match and hoping residents will attend a drive-thru swabbing event on July 17.

Erica Sevilla with Be The Match shared that 14-year-old Joshua Biyoyouwei is battling severe sickle cell disease, which has left him partially paralyzed following a stroke at the age of 18 months and in need of monthly blood transfusions.

According to Sevilla, Joshua has no matches in his family or on the Be The Match Registry. So the family partnered up with "Cheek Week," they are asking the residents of greater Lawrenceville to help him receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant – starting with a simple cheek swab.

Gwinnett County Commissioner Marlene Fosque has sponsored a proclamation recognizing July as African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month to support Joshua’s search and is encouraging Gwinnett residents to attend a drive-thru swabbing event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville.

Many people are unaware of the opportunity to swab their cheek to join the Be The Match Registry and possibly save a life. 

Blood stem cells are donated in a process similar to plasma donation and can cure someone of leukemia, sickle cell or 70 other types of blood diseases or blood cancers. Individuals can attend the drive-thru swabbing event or can join the Be The Match Registry here.