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Royal Palm Beach teenager in need of bone marrow donor

Donation event to be held at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School
Posted at 11:05 AM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 12:05:42-04

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Royal Palm Beach teenager is in need of a bone marrow donor.

The 14-year-old was diagnosed with rare, potentially fatal diseases that keep the body from producing blood cells. The community is now coming together to find a donor.

Naomi Schwartz is artistic, kind, a loving daughter and sister.

"I am 14 years old. I like to paint, to spend time with family," she said. "I'm in eighth grade and I like music."

The butterfly-loving teenager is facing a battle no one her age should have to. She was recently diagnosed with aplastic anemia with PNH.

"Naomi is facing a life-threatening, possibly fatal condition," said her mother, Kelly Schwartz.

Naomi needs a bone marrow donor.

Naomi Schwartz with her family
Naomi Schwartz (far right) with her father, younger sister and mother.

"My condition, I have no blood, so it's very hard to go and do normal activities," Naomi said.

Carlos Wesley is a community engagement representative for Be The Match.

"White patients have 77 percent chance of finding a match, but for Naomi and other mixed-race patients, the chance is only like 15 [percent]," explained Wesley. "Minorities are very under-represented in the registry, so our mission is not only to increase the number of potential donors but especially increase the diversity of the Be The Match registry."

There's currently no match for Naomi in the registry, and her sister is not a match either.

"Naomi's background is Ashkenazi Jewish and Puerto Rican, and the chances of her, according to Be The Match, is 15 percent chance of finding a match. According to our transplant team, it is one percent," Kelly Schwartz said.

Be The Match, Naomi Schwartz
Naomi is looking for a bone marrow donor through the Be The Match website.

Naomi's sister, Nilah, is a student at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School, where Naomi used to attend classes.

The girls' mother said Naomi wasn't feeling well just as they were about to send her little sister back to in-person learning this year.

"We decided if we are going to send Nilah to school, and do a school physical, let's just get everybody out of the way. That way when school opens back up, we are not going to be in that rush. Jan. 22 was the day that our life changed," Kelly Schwartz said.

Life changed for the whole family, including little sister Nilah.

"She is the social butterfly, and she's had to stay home, not have any social gatherings, no playdates, no parties," Kelly Schwartz said.

Nilah is now hoping her school community will come through for her sister.

"We've all been hoping and praying that we can help find the match that will change Naomi's life going forward," said Tracy Ghetti, the principal at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School.

Tracy Ghetti, principal at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School
Principal Tracy Ghetti discusses the upcoming bone marrow drive at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School.

Royal Palm Beach Elementary School will host a bone marrow donation drive-thru event for Naomi on June 5 from 8 a.m. until noon. Everything will be done in your car to avoid any exposure during the pandemic for participants and Naomi, who plans to be there.

"This place is my family. The students and the families that we get to work with every day, we are the luckiest people in the world," Ghetti said. "And so anything that we can do to help our family and our community we definitely want to."

"I hope next year we find out that through this drive and through the efforts of the community, as well as ours, that many people found a match," said Kelly Schwartz. "Less parents have to go through that waiting stage of who is going to be the one that can save my child's life."

With the support of the community, the family hopes to find a miracle.

"We just know that she's going to be OK," said Naomi's father, March Schwartz, her father. "And we're going to stay the course, and we're believing for a miracle, a cure."

A year from now, Naomi hopes she is well.

"I also hope that I can start doing normal things," Naomi said.

Click here to learn more about Naomi's fight and how you can join the bone marrow registry.