Get swabbed, save a life

It only takes a few minutes, but you could help save the life of 3-year-old Nicholas “Nicky” Mauceri, of Manorville, who is in dire need of a bone marrow donor.

During Family Fun Night in Patchogue on Friday, Aug. 11, anyone between the ages of 18-55 can register to be a bone marrow donor. The process is easy: Fill out a form and swab the inside of each cheek for 30 seconds. Experts from DKMS, the worldwide organization dedicated to matching donors and blood cancer patients, will be available to answer any questions that would-be donors might have.

DKMS will set up their tent on East Main Street for Family Fun Night, held Friday from 5-7 p.m.

Like most of his peers, Nicky’s parents Denise and Damien say he loves cars, trucks, transformers, watching animated movies and spending time with his family. Unlike most, he has leukemia. In January, the family learned that Nicky had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive form of the disease.

Since that two-week stay at Stony Brook University Hospital, Nicky has had a port placed inside his chest, blood transfusions, eight spinal taps, chemotherapy and bone marrow biopsies. The family crossed their fingers and prayed for Nicky to be in full remission by the 29th day of treatment. “A large majority of kids go into full remission by then,” his mother explained. But then, a bone marrow biopsy determined that there were still leukemic cells present in his bone marrow, classifying him as “high risk.”

As a result, treatment has been more intense; sometimes Nicky receives chemo four times a week. “He still gets very upset when they put the needle in his port, but he has most definitely been a trooper,” Denise Mauceri said. “He has had to give up nursery school, play dates, parties, and he doesn’t complain about it. He’s still happy and running around like a typical 3-year-old.”

His doctors are now starting the process for Nicholas to receive a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. His parents and older sister Julianne have already been crossed off the list as donors.

They have been keeping an eye on a national registry list through the nonprofit DKMS, but are reaching out locally as well.

All it takes is a cotton swab in your mouth, carefully packaged and sent to the nonprofit for analysis. Denise Mauceri said there have been potential matches, but further investigation is still needed. It has to be the perfect match. “They are always trying to find the best possible match for a patient based on a number of factors,” she explained.

Potential donors swab their mouths in an effort to help 3-year-old Nicholas Mauceri find a match. Photo Courtesy of Tina-Marie Mauceri Ugalde.

Support, she said, has been overwhelming; with friends and strangers rallying from all over to help Nicky beat cancer. Their friends have organized several bone marrow drives.

Nicky’s aunt, Tina-Marie Mauceri Ugalde, also started a YouCaring page to help offset costs of his treatment for the family. To make a donation, visit YouCaring.com.

There are two more upcoming bone marrow registration drives after tomorrow’s drive in Patchogue. The first will be held Aug. 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Northport VA and another will be held on Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gold Medal Gymnastics Center in Centereach.

If you can’t register as a donor in person, kits are available online through www.dkms.org.

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