Two-year-old in desperate need of bone marrow donor

When 2-year-old Harrison Leonardo fell ill in March of this year, his mother’s maternal instinct kicked in.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” explained Stephanie Isaacson, who was initially told her son’s fever, loss of appetite and fatigue were just a virus.

After a few more days, Harrison, normally an active and highly social child, wouldn’t get out of bed — not even for his favorite movie, “Finding Nemo.”

After a series of blood tests, the doctors delivered Isaacson and her husband, San Francisco firefighter O.J. Leonardo, a horrific blow — Harrison has leukemia. Harrison’s parents are now banking on a long shot — that a donor matching Harrison’s ethnic makeup will come forward and save their son’s life.

Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion, 1524 Powell St., Harrison’s family is praying that a bone marrow donor, preferably of mixed Filipino and Caucasian, Asian or Filipino descent will come forward and give him another chance at childhood — and at life.

Harrison’s first diagnosis put him up against a tough bout of chemotherapy that was ruthless on his tiny body. In August, his parents were relieved and thankful to learn he was in remission — but they never expected the disease to creep up again just three months later.

“[The second time] was even more devastating,” Leonardo said of the November diagnosis. “I just felt as if he had been cheated, robbed of a [normal childhood],” Isaacson said.

Although the chemotherapy was successful the first time, the small timeframe before the leukemia came back foretold that this time, Harrison would need a bone marrow transplant instead. Finding a donor that matches 100 percent, as required, however, has been easier said than done.

“Harrison needs a donor that matches his biracial Filipino and Caucasian ethnicity,” said Carol Gillespie, executive director ofthe Asian American Donor Foundation

“There are only 11,000 mixed Asian donors in the registry and none of them match,” Gillespie said.

Harrison’s parents are trying to get the word out quickly about the need for a donor, as time is running out. The family’s Web site, helphar

rison.com, has helped promote a series of donor drives — and this Wednesday’s drive could be vital.

“We’re hoping we can find a perfect match because that will mean a less risky transplant and a lesser chance of long-term side effects,” Isaacson said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for someone to make a difference, to buy time if it’s not forever.”

Donor drive

» Wednesday, Dec. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion Cathay Post, 1524 Powell St.

» Potential donors will undergo a cheek swab test to see if they are a potential bone marrow match for Harrison.

» People ages 18-60, in good health and of Filipino and Caucasian, Filipino or Asian decent are being sought.

» For more information, or to find out how you can help, visit www.helpharrison.com.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Diners sit outside Caffe Greco in North Beach on Monday, June 15, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF becomes first Bay Area County to move to least restrictive COVID-19 category

Change to ‘yellow’ will allow more indoor dining and fitness, reopening non-essential offices

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

Most Read