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The Stem Cell Transplant That Can Save This Young Man’s Life

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Chairez

Daniel Chairez turns 25 this year. After years of living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), he’s ready for a fresh start. But first, he needs a stem cell transplant.

He’s loved baseball his whole life. An avid Los Angeles Dodgers fan, he grew up playing little league, as well as high school baseball. But Chairez’ baseball dreams were about to be interrupted.

As an outfielder and a first baseman, Chairez loved the game, but [ dreaded going to practice because his back hurt. While his doctor said it was just growing pains, his stepmother noticed his eyes were yellow and thought it could be something more. She had some bloodwork run at the hospital where she worked. 


Chairez was diagnosed with ALL in 2006 at the age of 10 and began aggressive chemotherapy. As it turned out, his back pain was actually a spinal fracture, which meant he had to wear a back brace. A year later, he was in remission, including going back to school and playing baseball again.

“It’s never stopped fully”

Then in 2014, he relapsed right before the start of his senior year of high school. His symptoms were the same: fatigue and yellow eyes. He says his ALL was always in the background.

“It just seemed like it was always like a second part of my life like because I always had to go for checkups,” he says. “It’s never stopped fully.”

He was treated with the same aggressive chemotherapy. He lost his hair, had bad nausea and experienced painful lesions in his mouth. He remembers drinking watermelon water to sooth the pain.

After another long treatment journey, Chairez was again in remission. He slowly resumed his life, including working part-time job at FedEx and attending junior college.

“I want to be an oncology nurse, because I feel like I would be able to help and understand kids more, because I’ve gone through it as well,” he says.

Looking for a match

Chairez was in remission for nearly five years. During that time, he fell in love with a girl he met in high school and got engaged. 

Then in January 2020, he relapsed again. He was tired and had yellow eyes again. This time was different though because with the pandemic, he had to do his medical care on his own.

He had chemotherapy, then car-T cells therapy, which is a form of immunotherapy where T cells are genetically engineered to fight cancer. Unfortunately, the car-T therapy stopped working after two months. 

If you could offer hope to someone dying from cancer, would you?

Doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant, using marrow from his brother, (a 50% match), but the doctors didn’t want to perform the procedure because Chairez’s liver was in bad shape. Plus the procedure was too risky. And a second round of car-T didn’t work at all.

Now doctors say he needs a life-saving blood and stem cell transplant. But ideally, he needs a 100% matching donor. And since Chairez is Hispanic, the likelihood of finding a Hispanic donor on the registry is only 46%, since there aren’t enough Hispanic and Latino donors registered.

“Register if you can, if you’re willing to because you never know what can happen and who you could help,” he says. “Just a simple cheek swab could make a difference.”


Even though it can be emotional, Chairez thinks about a future after his cancer. 

“I’ve thought about it, especially now with my fiancé, it’s given me a lot more of a push to get to the other side,” he says. “To have a life with her and to continue our journey together.”


They plan to get married within the next three to four years once she finishes college and he’s well. He watches other patients who’ve had bone marrow transplants and thinks he could have a similar outcome.

“There have been some people that I’ve met and followed that have also given me hope, seeing them go through their transplant and coming out on the other side,” he says. “How they’re doing and how they’re looking, it looks like a good risk to do it.”

To register, go to: https://join.bethematch.org/PlanetDaniel

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