ITHACA, N.Y. — A local family is looking for bone marrow donors for a 3-year-old girl fighting cancer.

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Gianna Lesselroth, granddaughter of long-time local residents Traudel and Rocco Lucente, is in a hospital in Boston trying to beat the disease.

The Lucente family will be holding a Bone Marrow Registration drive on August 22 and August 23.

“The doctors had hoped that X and Y and Z would be available, but they’ve just found out it isn’t. There aren’t a lot of options left in terms of treating her,” says Ann Marie Eckert — pastoral associate of Ithaca’s St. Catherine of Siena Parish, of which the Lucentes are members — in an interview on Wednesday. (The drive will be at the church, at 302 St. Catherine Circle in Ithaca.)

“No one in her family is a match … They haven’t found a donor.”

Gianna Lesselroth, 3

Eckert explained that potential donors send DNA swabs that are then checked for a match with possible patients around the country.

The majority of bone marrow transplants can now be completed through a non-surgical procedure; however, Gianna’s condition would requires donors to have a 1-2 hour surgical procedure under anesthesia, according to Eckert. Eckert noted that there was a short, two-week recovery after the procedure before donors can go back to work.

“There’s very little risk,” she said. “…. (But) the reality is that matching is hard.”

A letter sent to the parish bulletin also urged local residents to help with the registration drive.

“Gianna just celebrated her third birthday and she has lived most of her short life in the company of doctors, nurses, and a whole variety of treatments to address her leukemia,” the letter says.

“For over two years here at St. Catherine’s, we have been praying for Gianna Lesselroth.”

Here’s how you can help, according to the newsletter:

— Come to the Registration Drive (August 22 from 3-6 p.m. and August 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or register online at

— Serve as a volunteer for the Drive—explaining the donation options, helping people register, over-seeing the collection of the swaps. Volunteers serve a 2-hour shift and need to attend an orientation on August 18 or 22 for an hour. Contact Ann Marie to volunteer at / 257-2493.

— Help publicize this event at your office, with friends, in your neighborhood, etc. Posters and fliers will be available in the coming weeks.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.