6-year-old Rockford girl survives cancer, sells lemonade to raise awareness

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Six-year-old Aliyah Garcia survived her battle with cancer because a complete stranger, from thousands of miles away, helped save her life. Now, she’s trying to raise awareness of childhood cancer with her lemonade stand.

She’s alive today thanks to an anonymous bone marrow donor transplant. Aliyah was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in May 2020.

On Wednesday, she set up her own lemonade stand with the hope of raising awareness of the disease, and to raise funds for the international “Be the Match” program. It was through the program that Aliyah matched with a donor in Germany.

“In order to match a patient and a donor, for a blood stem cell or marrow donation, we’re looking for their HLA type. That’s a protein that’s on your gene, which is specific to your ethnicity,” explained donor recruiter Kassidi Laurel, from the Rock River Valley Blood Center.

“Currently, the registry does have a disparity. Not all ethnicities are equally represented, which means Aliyah didn’t have as great of a chance at finding her match as a patient who is White,” Laurel said.

She is now cancer-free, but says her goal is to have resources available for children like her in Rockford.

Her mother, Alejandra, says she’s proud of her daughter’s strength.

“It makes me really happy to see her be as energetic as she was. She had just had chemo last night at home, so it’s crazy. I could have never thought that my daughter, going through chemo or everything that she’s gone through, she would have so much energy as she does right now,” Alejandra said.

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