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Get Kobe back on the field

By Staff | Feb 25, 2021

JaKobe “Kobe” Washington, 8, is in need of a blood marrow or stem cell transplant. Be the Match, Lee Health will hold a bone marrow drive-thru event his Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at at Golisano Children’s Hospital, 9981 S. Healthpark Dr., Fort Myers 33908, Parking area B3-4.

The Breeze newsroom receives dozens of press releases each week from a variety of sources.

Some we share in print. Some we post online. Some are assigned for followup as news stories.

It is rare, though, that one of individual impact makes its way here onto the opinion page.

The challenge faced by Jakobe “Kobe” Washington is an exception to the rule.

Kobe, who is 8, has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

He is in urgent need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.

And his only option to get that lifesaving procedure is through a community effort as there are no family matches, no matches in the national Be The Match Registry.

Because Kobe is African American there is only a 23% chance of finding a match.

So the net must be cast wide.

Who is Kobe?

Kobe loves baseball — that’s his thing — and he played Little League before his diagnosis last summer.

Kobe loves science and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.

Kobe is a “faith-filled child who loves singing worship music and praying for others’ well-being.”

Those who love him say he now needs the prayers and support of the community here in Southwest Florida.

Indeed he does.

Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida will hold the second of two Lee County bone marrow donor drives for Kobe this Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to noon.

It’s a drive-thru event, meaning, those who are willing to see if they are potential match need not leave their vehicle to provide the simplest of samples — a cheek swab.

The drive, being held in conjunction with Be The Match Registry, will be held in Parking Area B3-4 at the hospital at 9981 S. Healthpark Drive, Fort Myers.

The process of actually donating, should you be a match, is, of course, more complicated but, according to Be The Match, is not painful, not dangerous and, to the donor, without cost. Donating peripheral blood stem cells is similar to donating plasma, donating bone marrow itself is usually an out-patient procedure, according to Be The Match.

Full details, including an in-depth “Myths and Facts” Q&A may be found at bethematch.org.

Can’t be a potential donor?

There are other ways to help:

— A GoFundMe to “Get Kobe Back on the Field” has been established. While donations have been steady, it’s still far from its goal to help offset the financial burden to his family, including the cost of treatments that will run a minimum of three years.

— A Facebook page, Home Run For Kobe, has been established for those who want to follow Kobe’s fight.

— On the national scale, Be The Match accepts donations for its programs and services at bethematch.org.

We’ll do one more thing we typically don’t do on these pages. We’ll include a photo, the photo of Kobe submitted with the press release. It grabbed our attention. It grabbed our hearts. It prompted this plea.

Lastly, we’ll share one more thing about Kobe. Those who love him say he’s a “strong-willed 8-year-old who never backs down from a challenge and will be fighting cancer head on.”

As a community, let’s help get Kobe what he needs. The world needs astronauts.

— Breeze editorial