May 28 is World Blood Cancer Day, created to bring awareness of the disorder, and a Brooklyn neighborhood is coming together around the health issue in an effort to save one of its own. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
In his book "The Brooklynites," Seth Kushner used photography to focus on residents in his home borough. Now, Brooklynites are drawing attention to Kushner and his sudden fight against leukemia.
In his Bay Ridge neighborhood, a bone-marrow drive was put together to help save his life.
"The smallest thing I can do is just come down here and swab my cheek and see if I'm a match for Seth or for anyone else," said Nathan Schreiber, a friend of Kushner.
"We felt like it was something that we had to do, part of the community," said Cat Vaz, a friend of Kushner.
Kushner is a photographer and author of several books. Just last month, he successfully raised more than $15,000 in an online campaign for his next project when he thought he came down with the the flu. His wife, Terra, said she took him to the hospital and he hasn't returned home since. Doctors say he has an aggressive form of leukemia.
"It doesn't matter how much chemo he gets. It's just going to keep relapsing," Terra Kushner said. "His only option is a transplant, and what they tell us is that he doesn't have the luxury of time."
His 4-year-old son's preschool worked quickly to organize the drive.
"We felt like this was one of the ways that we can really boost his spirit and let him and the family know how much we are worried about him and that we hope he finds a bone marrow match," said Andrea Shin, a parent at Treasure Island Preschool.
Donors perform a cheek swab, which is sent to a lab as a sample of their tissue type, and they're added to a registry. Officials of the organization Delete Blood Cancer say finding a match is not easy.
"There is over 7,000 tissue typings, which are proteins to identify people," said Jennifer Daniel, a donor recruitment coordinator with Delete Blood Cancer. "You have to have at least eight in common, 10 to be considered a perfect match for a person."
The group said there are 14,000 people waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Until a match is found, Kushner will remain in the hospital, where he's been drawing superheroes daily for his son.
In addition to neighborhood efforts, there are also bone marrow drives being organized for Seth throughout the city.
For more information, visit his Facebook page and go to deletebloodcancer.org.