Rap Star 50 Cent To Hold Bone Marrow Drive For Young Leukemia Patient

NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) — An 11-year-old girl who played young Nala in “The Lion King” on Broadway will get a potentially lifesaving procedure.

Shannon Tavarez, who has leukemia, will get an umbilical-cord blood transplant on Tuesday. It’s used as an alternative to treat the disease when a perfect bone marrow match can’t be found.

Her mother, Odiney Brown, says she’s praying it will work.

In an interview with Shannon and her mother last month, Brown told CBS 2 that she’s overwhelmed and touched by the turnout for a bone marrow registration drive, held in the lobby of “The Lion King.”

“She’s so happy. She’s calling me, asking me ‘So, how many people are there? What’re you doing? What’s going on?’ She’s excited,” said mother Odiney Brown.

Shannon wasn’t well enough to be at the drive, but she says she is just like the young cub she played on Broadway – a fighter.

Her search for a perfect bone marrow match is especially difficult because her mother is African-American and her father is Hispanic from the Dominican Republic. Minorities and those of mixed ancestry have a more difficult time finding a match.

The bone marrow registry DKMS is holding another drive for Shannon on Sunday at 50 Cent’s community garden in Queens. The rapper has made a video in her honor.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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