Leukemia patient Arturo Cervantes traveled to this country from Mexico in search of a bone marrow transplant, and tests indicate that he matches with the unusually high number of 79 potential donors.
But Cervantes, a former professional soccer player, has also learned that he does not have enough money for the $375,000 operation.
He said his government-issued medical insurance does not cover U.S. medical procedures.
He had expected the operation to cost about $150,000 but now faces a much higher hurdle.
“I thought my life was going nowhere but up. Now I am restricted from playing or doing any exercise at all,” Cervantes, 32, wrote in a letter soliciting donations. “Sometimes I sit and cry and ask, ‘Why me?’ ”
Cervantes, with the help of the Santa Ana Police Department, made a public plea last week for donations. So far, he has collected about $6,000.
Cervantes and his local supporters had turned to Jose Vargas, the Police Department’s Hispanic affairs officer, for help.
“The chief said, ‘Well, we’re in the business of saving lives,’ ” Vargas said.
Cervantes’ leukemia was diagnosed in 1994, and a bone marrow transplant is the only known cure. He was undergoing treatment in Mexico, but no matching donor could be found.
For more information or to make a donation, call (714) 447-1170.