14-year-old girl with rare disease hoping to find a match at bone marrow drive


Guam – The first bone marrow drive in Guam began in 2003, in honor of a little girl named Justice Taitague who was battling cancer. While she tragically died a week after the bone marrow drive was held, she left a legacy which has helped to save countless lives.

This weekend you can become part or that legacy and participate in the bone marrow drive and possibly help save a life.

Imani Malanche, 14, just started school but because of her condition, she is not like every other teenage high schooler full of energy. Instead, she finds herself physicially drained by the end of the day. She was diagnosed with aplastic anemia with PNH. Her cure–a bone marrow transplant which will allow Imani a chance at being able to live a normal, healthy life.

“Besides her, there are other kids, other adults that these bone marrow transplantation every year, every month [help] so we want to encourage people to sign up. Don’t wait till the last minute,” says Guam Medical Association President Dr. Thomas Shieh, who has spearheaded most, if not all, bone marrow drives on Guam since 2003.

“This is 2018–fifteen years later that we are doing this again and we want to make sure that the word gets out. But we want to find a match for Imani. If not, her survival is going to be low,” he says.

“Log on, come to Agana Shopping Center. We will be there from 10 in the morning, we will be there until 4 in the afternoon. I will be there. I’ll be there to answer questions. Roy Yonashiro from Hawaii Bone and Marrow will be here as well. And I will help you register and we will answer questions. We have a whole list of requirements. Even when you log online there will be yes or no questions and then don’t disqualify yourself. What you want to do is sign up and then allow the system to say, hey, you’re disqualified or you’re qualified,” explains Dr. Shieh.

If you are 18 to 44 years old then you have already met the first requirement.

“The reason why we want to target a younger population is because their stem cells are more vibrant,” he notes.

Shieh says over the years there have been quite a few matches for bone marrow transplants but the key is stepping up.

“A firefighter named Mark, he has given twice bone marrow transplants so he has saved two people already,” shares Dr. Shieh.

If you are a match, make sure you answer the call because on the other side of the call is a person waiting for you to save their life.

“I want to thank Dr. Shieh for putting this together and I want to thank everyone else who is coming together because it’s been really hard living like this and I think it will be better if I find someone who is a match and I think it will also be better for another kid who is going through this to find a match because it’s hard and I don’t think anyone else should live like this. I am very grateful to all the doctors and nurses helping and I just wanted to say thank you,” Imani said in a video posted on social media.

No matter what your blood type, come out and register this Saturday at the Agana Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also sign up online using a specific code from the bone marrow registry and a testing kit will be mailed to you.


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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.