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Biracial Austin woman hopes to find bone marrow match so she can go back to UT

What Lizzie Tennyson is looking for is harder to come by because of her ethnicity.

AUSTIN, Texas — A young Austin woman is searching for her perfect match.

Lizzie Tennyson is battling cancer and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

“I’ve been, I guess, blessed to be able to have multiple options for treatment, but I’m running out of options and I don’t know how many more chances I’m going to get,” said Tennyson.

Now, Dell Children's Medical Center is asking for the public’s help because what she's looking for is hard to come by.

Tennyson is biracial, making it more difficult for her to find a match. A spokesperson for Be the Match said it means she has less than a 14% chance of finding a match. She ideally needs a biracial donor. That's why Dell Children's is holding a Donor Registry Drive for her on Friday, Nov. 15.

Doctors diagnosed Tennyson with leukemia when she was 13 years old. She's now 21. The four-time cancer survivor recently got into her dream school – The University of Texas.

PHOTOS: Tennyson hopes to find bone marrow match to go back to UT

She was set to start this fall, but just six weeks ago she found out her cancer came back and had to drop out. She's now undergoing chemo for the fifth time, and she said she desperately needs a bone marrow that's free of cancer to end this cycle.

“With it having such blatant chances of coming back, I can’t be sure this time around it’s not going to come back again," said Tennyson. "The only known cure is a transplant, so it’s really important that I get one.” 

“We definitely want to encourage everyone to come and swab and even if you’re not biracial just come and swab on Friday with us,” said Brenda Garza, with GenCure and Be the Match.


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Tennyson is adopted but said her biological dad is white and her mom is African American. 

Those of the same mixed-race are asked to stop by Dell Children's Medical Center at 4900 Mueller Blvd. The drive will take place on Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Be the Match representatives said they'll just need a quick, 10-second cheek swab.

At the moment, there's not a perfect match for Tennyson in the registry. The goal is to change that so she can start fresh and go back to UT to complete her degree in computer engineering.

She said finding this match will not only give her peace of mind, but her family who's been on this long journey with her. She'll be going through chemo treatments until that donor is found.

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