North Hills School District News Article

West View student battling leukemia to receive bone marrow transplant

Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Riley Balcita

PITTSBURGH (May 22, 2019) – A West View Elementary fifth grader battling leukemia will soon be receiving a bone marrow transplant!

Riley Balcita was eight years old when he was diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ALL), a rare subtype of the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), in October of 2016.

Last fall, he went into remission but just four short months later, the cancer returned.

In March, students at West View rallied for their classmate by hosting a “Hats off to Riley” day. Students wore hats to school in honor of Riley and his love of his fedora, and together raised more than $1,600 to help Riley’s family. Riley and his mom recorded a thank you video and posted it on Youtube.

Since then, others in the district have lent their support to raise awareness for Riley’s courageous fight.

Earlier this month, student-runners who participated in the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon wore “Be the Match” stickers to encourage people to join the bone marrow registry, and this week, McIntyre Elementary is hosting a $1 per day Rally for Riley.

Last week, Riley’s family received some great news: He was matched (12 out of 12 criteria) for a bone marrow transplant! It’s estimated that most people have just four bone marrow matches in the entire world!

Riley’s father, Arnel, credits the West View community with sharing Riley’s story and says the outpouring of support prompted nearly 500 people nationwide to join the bone marrow registry.

While Riley found a match, there are so many others who have not. Registering to be a potential bone marrow or blood stem cell donor is quick, easy and could save a life. Interested donors should register online at bethematch.org/teamriley.

Riley’s transplant is expected to take place later this summer. You can follow his story on Facebook @LittleGuyRi.

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