Eleven-year-old Nicholas Ambrose has one wish — to be a normal kid.

You wouldn’t know it from his megawatt grin, but Nicholas suffers from a devastating medical problem.

It started three years ago with a bad stomachache.

“They initially told us that he had cancer,” said Nicholas’ mother Ebony Ambrose.

But it wasn’t cancer. Doctors later discovered Nicholas has an fungal infection growing inside his body, wrapping itself around his organs.

No one knows how he got it, but they do know why.

“The doctors and researchers finally found out that Nicholas has a very rare immune deficiency called CARD9. It prevents him from fighting off fungal infections,” said Ambrose.

It’s a problem no medicine can fix.

“You have to fix that genetic mutation and that can only be done with a bone marrow transplant,” said Ambrose.

But there’s a huge challenge. There just aren’t enough minorities in the bone marrow registry.

“Nicholas unfortunately in the registry does not have a match,” said Ambrose. “With Nicholas being African-American, there are a lot less people who are willing to donate or even be tested to be a bone marrow donor. To be tested, all it is is a swab of the mouth, and I think some people just don’t know.”

To join the Be The Match registry only requires a cotton swab of the inside of the cheek. If someone is a match, that process is much easier than most people believe. Donating bone marrow used to require a procedure in the operating room, but the majority of donations these days are made using the process that’s very similar to donating blood, with no surgery required.

LEARN MORE: Be The Match explains bone marrow donation

Nicholas’ parents desperately hope someone can be their son’s hero.

“Deep in your heart, just think of it as a family member, in your family, and you want to help that family, you want to help your nephew whomever,” said Ronnie Ambrose, Nicholas’ father. “You might be a match, you might not, but at least you tried, at least you gave an effort.”

“If someone could or would step up and be a donor and they match Nicholas,” said Ebony Ambrose. “I wouldn’t need anything else. All I want is for him to be healthy.”

If you want to join the bone marrow registry, Local 4 is teaming up with Be The Match and Wolverines for Life at the University of Michigan to hold two bone marrow drives this Friday, September 19th.

You need to be between the ages of 18-44 to join the registry, because patients do better if the donor is younger. If you don’t meet that requirement, you can donate money to help offset the cost of adding people to the registry.

If you can’t make it to one of the drives, you can also join online by clicking here.

If you would like to help the Ambrose family with Nicholas’ medical expenses, you can send checks payable to Nicholas Ambrose c/o Morgan Stanley, 220 Park St., Birmingham, MI 48009.

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