Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Young Boy needs bone marrow match to overcome rare illness

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Marama T-Pole | Presenter

Nine year old Te Waarakihi Hooper Felise is pinning his hopes on a bone marrow match to overcome a rare and serious condition.

The Rotorua boy, who is of Tokelau and Maori heritage, found out in February that he has Aplastic Anaemia, a condition that occurs when the bone marrow can’t make enough blood cells and platelets.  

His mum, Sherene Hooper, says they started seeing changes when he began having random nose bleeds and he was quite jaundiced.  

Te Waarakihi has been in and out of Starship Hospital since February and the family  have had to move up to Auckland, to the Ronald McDonald House, while he’s getting treated.  

“We have to go back and forth every single day. His body can’t function by itself without his white blood cells, so he needs medication to help fight off any kind of fevers,” Sherene says.

Dad, Tala Felise, says he didn’t realise how serious it was when Te Waarakihi was first admitted and the illness has really changed everything for them all. 

Te Waarakihi says he misses his friends in Rotorua and especially his grandad.

He has a real chance of beating the illness if he can find a match from a bone marrow donor. 

However, the odds are stacked against him, as he must match from only a Maori or Pasifika donor. 

Carolyn Crump is the Team Leader at  the New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry and says they’re really trying to attract Maori and Pasifika donors.  

“Out of about 13,500 donors in the New Zealand registry, we have about 9000 Maori and Pacific donors. 

“There are also Maori and Pasifika donors in Australia, in the US and particularly Hawaií that they can draw on.” 

The chances of finding a match are higher for non Pasifika as Pakeha can draw on a global pool of 25 million donors. 

To help drum up awareness in the Pasifika community, Te Waarakihi’s grandmother, Mahara Hooper, organised an event with the Rotorua Pacific Community.  

Rotorua Pacific Development Charitable Trust spokesperson Nika Alefosio-Tuck said the evening was “about the whole community coming together, the Pacific community and showing support for Te Waarakihi and other kids that might need bone marrow in the future.”

The night included cultural performances from local Tongan, Cook Islands community and the Samoan group from Rotorua Girls’ High School. 

Nika says, “Rotorua is a small community and is the sort of place in times like this you come together.”

For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor:
NZ Bone Marrow Donor Registry
Trust Teina – A charitable trust with a vision to save Maori and Pasifika lives through increasing bone marrow and organ donor registers in NZ [email protected]
Dream Chaser Foundation – A Chace Topperwien Charity  [email protected]



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