'Rihanna's Girl': Clock Ticks for Marrow Donor

Jasmina Amena

Six-year-old Jasmina Anema has three strikes against her -- she has a rare and often lethal form of leukemia, she has no siblings and she is black.

But with a bevy of celebrities taking on her fight to find a bone marrow donor, the New York City child has one last chance to find an elusive cure.

Jasmina Amena
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Because Jasmina is African American, she has barely a "one in a million" chance of finding an exact match, according to her mother, fashion designer Theodora Anema, who is white.

The charismatic girl has survived four rounds of chemotherapy and her next line of defense would be finding a sibling donor. But Jasmina was adopted, the "creation of a one-night affair," and has no brothers or sisters or any known close relations, Anema told ABCNews.com.

Family and doctors say it's hard to believe she has only about a month to live, given her extraordinary energy and upbeat attitude. From her hospital bed, Jasmina told ABCNews.com that she was "having fun" playing a Curious George game on her computer at New York University Medical Center.

"She's a happy camper and doesn't know what's happening," Anema told ABCNews.com. "She's a very vivacious child and does have a lot of energy. She is tolerating the chemotherapy so well, she has been up late at night dancing and jumping up and down."

Rihanna, Other Stars Support Ailing Jasmina

The first star to be smitten with the charismatic kindergartner was Rihanna, the pop singer . Soon, others followed: Grammy nominee Calvin Richardson, New York Knicks Chris Wilcox, Boston Celtic star, Paul Pierce and the Hornets' Tyson Chandler.

"When I saw the video, it broke my heart," Rihanna told PEOPLE magazine in February. "It is so unfair that for a black patient it's so much harder to find a bone marrow match."

Singer Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child helped Jasmina celebrate her birthday, spending hours with the kindergartner, who lives in New York City's Greenwich Village.

"This young, beautiful little girl needs a match," Rowland told ABC's New York station WABC-TV. "When you meet her you just can't help but fall in love."

'Natural Killer' Leukemia

Jasmina was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of leukemia -- NK T cell -- and her doctors say she must find a donor match within one month. The "NK" stands for "natural killer," according to Anema, and occurs in only one percent of all childhood cases.

Fighting the disease is hard enough -- with only a 1 in 4 chance of a cure -- but being a minority makes finding a bone marrow match nearly impossible, due to a shortage of minority donors.

African Americans have more complex HLA (human leukocyte antigen) types -- the "bar code on every one of our cells," according to Dr. William Carroll, who directs NYU's pediatric hematology oncology program, so donors for black leukemia patients must be African-American.

According to the National Bone Marrow Program, of the 7 million Americans listed as donors, only 7 percent, or about 550,000, are African-American. Other minorities are also under-represented: only 3 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent Asian.

They estimate that a marrow or blood cell transplant could benefit more than 10,000 children and adults with life-threatening diseases each year. More than 70 percent of all transplants are for leukemias.

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