Alana Dung still inspires others to give

Published On: Apr 27 2014 02:03:00 PM HST

Nearly two decades ago, a little girl's fight against leukemia inspired thousands across Hawaii into action.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' story.

Today, Alana Dung is still making a difference in people's lives.

Dung was just shy of 2 years old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in 1996.

"There were so many sick children but for some reason the community really just rallied around us and we felt grateful for that," said Alana's mother Adelia.

Dung's only hope was a bone marrow transplant. Public pleas for a donor motivated thousands to give their time and energy to find that match.

"We met a taxi driver who told us that everyone he picked up he told them, 'They are having a registry drive for this little girl, if you will come the cab fare is on me'," said Adelia.

Hawaii's Bone marrow registry quickly tripled in size from 15,000 people to nearly 50,000.

A match was found for Alana and she received a transplant, but the young girl died a year later when her cancer came back.
"When we lost Alana, Stephen and I felt that something positive had to come of it," said Adelia.

Though grieving, her parents formed the Alana Dung Foundation to help seriously ill children and fund research targeting deadly diseases.

"Our very first grant went to Randy Iwata who came back to the state and started the Hawaii Cord Blood Registry. He had no funding, and our $25,000 grant funded his work for a year," said Stephen Dung.

Over the years, there have been numerous checks given out in the foundation's name. Hundreds of cord blood units, bone marrow and stem cells have also been donated by residents. Many coming from those who signed up during those initial registry drives 18 years ago.

Alana is the face of the foundation, but her parents feel the people of Hawaii make up the heart of the organization.

"The foundation really does represent the hope and love of this community. We're proof that with desire amazing things can happen. We continue to be blessed in ways we could have never have imagined," said Adelia Dung.


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