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Jul 10th
Home Columns JGL Eye Filipina Dies After Failing to Find Bone-Marrow Donor
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Saturday, 03 April 2010 22:04




Journal Group Link International)



Filipina Dies After Failing to Find Bone-Marrow Donor


CHICAGO (JGLi) – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, according to Benjamin Franklin.


This was one of the most-popular expressions being promoted by my elementary school teachers that I remember through rote memory.


But I think with advances in medicine, teachers should also promote this expression – give a gift of life, be an organ donor!


By failing to find an adult, who could donate a bone marrow to her, Catherine “Cindy” Briones Rivera, 37, had died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is a cancer of the lymphoid tissue, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the immune system.


Most lymphomas start in a type of white blood cells called B-lymphocytes or B cells that may develop in people with weakened immune system. For instance, the risk of lymphoma increases after an organ transplant or in people with HIV infection.


Cindy found a match, a cord-blood donor in Taiwan. But for this cord blood to be transplanted to her (allogenic), she needed their only child’s (Baby Rafa, a son) cord blood. But Rafa’s stem cells are still premature for such procedure that would risk an infection.




So, according to Cindy’s husband, Luis, they went ahead with the “autologous” transplant, using her own stem cells. But there was a risk that her own blood might also be infected with cancer.


Just the same, doctors still waited for an adult donor “to again give her a better chance to beat the deadly disease.”

Their aggressive search, including the website,,” advertisements and word of mouth, to reach out to Filipino communities as well as other countries to join the donor program registry to enable them to find a match was not good enough. Cindy’s two brothers and a sister did not match hers either.


Now, Luis is encouraging everybody to become an organ donor by checking at the back of their driver’s license after what happened to her Cindy.


Relatives and friends are invited to attend Cindy’s wake at Holy Cross Mortuary, 5835 W. Slauson Ave., Culver City, California, on April 5, Monday, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; April 6, Tuesday from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. followed by the Holy Rosary Vigil: and April 7, Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by a Mass at 1:00 p.m. Those who want to contact Luis may call him at (310) 500-7235 or email him at




Such was the fragility of life of a 37-year-old accounting employee-turned homemaker, who was introduced to me via email by my friend, Ronnie M. Estrada, of San Jose, California. Cindy was introduced to Ronnie by Ronnie’s friend, Frank Eizmendi, uncle of Luis Rivera, who like Cindy, was also a native of Manila. Luis is a teacher at Mission Viejo, California.


Luis said that he and Cindy had been married for seven happy years. After two miscarriages, Cindy gave birth to a healthy boy, Rafa, last Oct. 28, 2009. But it was during her pregnancy at the 23rd week last July 24th, 2009 that she was first diagnosed with Stage 4, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.


It was a mere two months after Cindy’s own father from Tanauan, Batangas in the Philippines, passed away from cancer as well.


A fist-sized (13 cm by 7 cm) tumor (that turned cancerous) in Cindy’s chest area was discovered. And this tumor caused her left lung to collapse and adding pressure to her heart on top of being pregnant.


When Cindy checked in the hospital on a Friday, she had her first chemotherapy the following Monday.


Altho, the fetus inside her womb had to endure four chemo sessions, it miraculously came out very healthy. He (the fetus) was four weeks premature but did not need to be in the NICU (Neonatal intensive-care unit) and actually got to come home four days after.


However, a week later, Cindy again went back to the hospital due to unexplained fevers. CT/PET (Computed Tomography/Positron Emission Tomography) scans later showed that her cancer had grown resistant to her chemo regimens and that a stem cell transplant was necessary for her survival.


The original tumor had shrunk. But the scan also showed a new growth along the lining of her left lung. Her oncologist said that her best option was to have an allergenic transplant (donor) instead of using her own (autologous) as they would probably have cancer too.


God be with you, Cindy! ( # # #


 © opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.


(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)



Last Updated on Thursday, 10 June 2010 19:19
Comments (3)
1 Sunday, 04 April 2010 07:09

Good story, and so sad. What happened to our Fil-Am community? It's unbelievable that nobody heeded the family's call for help. I am sure a few out there matches her bone marrow and could had donated several more years of life to this woman.

May she rest in peace, indeed.

2 Sunday, 04 April 2010 13:32
Hi, JJ:
Thanks to your thoughts.
I think our community still needs a lot of education -- that donating organ or tissue is safe.
If they have this state of mind and if they are healthy enough, perhaps, they can open up by donating their organ o tissue. That having this empathetic attitude may not only be extending but also be saving a life not only of ones relatives and friends but also of strangers.
Let's pray for her soul.

3 Thursday, 08 July 2010 23:12
hello guys .. pls help my friend he is only 17 years old he has cancer he need bone marrow ..the doctor said dat he will last until oct only ... pls i need dat .. he is confine in st luke hospital here in philippines .. hes name is michael james chua ... i dont know wht i will do ,,, pls pls help us or contak me 09997476723 dat is my no ,,, tnx

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