Friends and family of 4-year-old Dak Lopez are partnering with international non-profit DKMS to find the matching blood stem cell donor who can save his life.
Dak Lopez was first diagnosed with Leukemia in April 2022. After undergoing chemotherapy, he is currently in remission, but his cancer is aggressive, and doctors say Dak will need a blood stem cell transplant to prevent it from returning. "You know, doctors have said that this is his only possible way of being cured," Dak’s father, Adam Lopez, said.
Dak is a happy little boy who enjoys fishing and playing outside with his friends and family. He has grown up surrounded by sports, his father is a multi-sport coach at their local middle and high schools and Dak was named after Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, who sent him some words of encouragement “I just wanted to say, I love your name. Stay strong my man, you’ve got me in your corner, the Cowboys are in your corner, blessings to you, and see you next season.”
Dak’s search for a donor is made more complicated by his Hispanic heritage. According to DKMS, 70% of patients in need of a donor must find one outside of their family. Patients are more likely to find an unrelated donor of a similar ethnic background, but the current pool of available donors is not as diverse as it needs to be for every patient to have an equal chance of finding a donor. Patients of Hispanic heritage, like Dak, have just a 46% of finding a matching unrelated donor.
Dak’s family hopes that his story will encourage more people, especially members of the Hispanic community, to sign up as potential donors, "We want this to be able to help not only Dak, but other kids, other people that are in need of a donor," Dak’s father said. Anyone in good health between ages 18-55 is encouraged to request a free swab kit at dkms.org/dak to see if they are a match for Dak or another patient in need.
DKMS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating blood cancers and other blood-related illnesses by inspiring people around the world to register as blood stem cell donors. DKMS is providing patients with a second chance at life, working closely with families from diagnosis to transplant and beyond. The donor journey begins with a swab of the cheek and can be the action that leads to a lifesaving transplant. DKMS, originally founded in Germany in 1991 by Dr. Peter Harf, has entities in South Africa, Poland, Chile, the United Kingdom, the United States and India. Globally, DKMS has registered over 11 million people and facilitated 100,000 second chances at life. To join the fight against blood cancer or for more information, please go to dkms.org.
To learn more and register as a blood stem cell donor, please visit dkms.org/dak.