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Funding Fight

15-year old Anthony Arroyo of Clovis is headed to Washington D.C. to convince lawmakers not to cut funding for bone marrow research.
15-year old Anthony Arroyo of Clovis is focused as he prepares to plead his case to Congress.

“I'm a lot better than I used to be.  I don't feel sick anymore.  I feel great,” said Anthony Arroyo, a bone marrow transplant recipient.

When Anthony was three years old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia which attacked his immune system.

So the community rallied to help find a matching bone marrow donor to give Anthony the transplant he desperately needed.  The search ended when he was six and doctors in Los Angeles performed his life-saving surgery.

The Buchanan High School student now looks to make history.  On Thursday, Anthony, his mother Juanita and a dozen other blood cancer survivors from around the country will converge on Capitol Hill.

“The reason why I'm flying all the way over there instead of writing a letter is so they can see how serious we are, how dedicated we are and that we really want to keep doing this,” said Arroyo.

They'll urge lawmakers not to cut funding to the National Marrow Donor Program.  Its non-profit group, Be The Match, raises money for marrow and cord blood transplants.  It stands to lose $3 million due to federal budget cuts.  

Anthony has his speech ready.

“Imagine if you had a life-threatening disease and need a bone marrow transplant or a blood transfusion.  How would you feel about that?” Arroyo questioned.

“For him to be an advocate for this and to come out and say I want to do this makes me a proud parent,” said Juanita Arroyo, Anthony’s mother.

The loss of federal financial support could be devastating.

“This means that as many as 20,000 willing volunteers and 1,000 cord blood units may not be added to the national registry,” said Liz Ustick of Be The Match.

Anthony can't stomach the thought, so he is prepared to fight.

“It's saving lives, the lives of everyday people,” said Arroyo.

Anthony continues to have anemia.  He takes medicine each day to keep it under control.  However his doctors are hopeful that one day he will be able to stop taking those pills.

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