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Be The Match: Strongsville family searches for bone marrow donor for toddler

Paisley Palmer's parents are only 50% matches, and it's why they're encouraging friends far and wide to register to 'Be The Match.'

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — What if we told you that you could be the one person who could save a child's life?

A Strongsville toddler is looking for her match for a bone marrow transplant. Paisley Palmer was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, in July.

"In August, she started the intense chemotherapy treatment," mom Jessica Palmer told 3News.

So far, Jessica and dad Tim say Paisley has been a warrior, handling treatment without too many side effects. She's now in her second round at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, but getting outside is a special escape.

"Having the opportunity to get to the rooftop here is a really great gift for her to be amongst the flowers and wildlife and nature," Jessica said. "This is one of her happy places.

"[Paisley] just thinks that all of these nurses and doctors are just, like, here to hang out and play with her, and she's now waving them in and running and giving them hugs. [That] is also really helpful, I think, for Tim and I to see that. This isn't normal, but I think it's a normal that she's adapting to fairly well."

To beat her blood cancer, Paisley will need a bone marrow transplant, likely early next year. Her parents are only 50% matches, and it's why they're encouraging friends far and wide to register to "Be The Match" with the National Marrow Donor Program.

"It's a lot more complex than matching blood types, so we need people of all genetic backgrounds, all histories to join because your DNA is so unique," Kate McDermott with Be The Match explained. "You never know who you might match with and whose life you might save just by being on the volunteer registry and being ready to donate if you're called as a match."

They look for certain genetic markers to declare a match.

"We call those HLA markers, or human leukocyte antigen markers," McDermott said. "We are usually looking for a 10 out of 10 match."

It's easy and free to find out with about 30 seconds of your time. Be The Match will send you a kit in the mail, you take two oral swabs, and mail them back in a prepaid envelope. Jessica shared her own process on Instagram.

"Yes, of course we want the match for our girl, but it's also, I think we've learned it's bigger than that too," Jessica said. "There's a lot of other people up there that are still waiting for their own, for their own confirmed match."

McDermott says 80% of matched donors are able to use a process called peripheral blood stem cell donation, which involves a few weeks of injections and a daylong process similar to donating plasma. About 20% of cases involve traditional, surgical bone marrow donation. That recovery is often a week or two.

The Palmers already look forward to meeting Paisley’s donor someday.

"I can't wait to give them the world's biggest hug," Jessica gushed.

Anyone can sign up to start the registration process with a text. You can send the message "SAVEPAISLEY" to 61474, or click on this link to register for a test kit.

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