Frisco high school students rally around recent grad in need of lifesaving bone marrow match

Students at Heritage High School in Frisco are rallying around a recent graduate.

Darryl Dugenio has a life-threatening blood condition and is in need of a stem cell donation. His family is struggling to find a match.

Thousands of people each year do a swab for the bone marrow registry. But in minority communities, the numbers are low. So students at Heritage High are taking action to try to save a former classmate's life.

Darryl Dugenio is in the fight of his life hoping that a lifesaving match comes soon.

“Since the very beginning, I put in my mind that I am going to be ok,” he said.

On the surface, Dugenio looks like any other recent high school graduate. It took doctors most of his entire senior year to figure out what was wrong

The day before his graduation in May 2019, Dugenio was diagnosed with a rare blood condition that prevents his body from producing new blood cells. A successful stem cell transplant could cure him.

When students at Heritage High heard about his condition, they created a spirit week to bring awareness to his illness.

“We've made over 2,200 ribbons to hand out at school,” said student Neil Gupta.

The school will hold a drive on Friday for people to go and do a cheek swab to see if they are a match.

Dugenio's mother, Wol, says her son is being strong for his family. He went from having blood transfusions weekly to now once a month. It’s part of his short-term treatment.

“He is the youngest of four kids,” she said. “And he is the one that has never been sick before.”


Despite many being added to the Be The Match Registry every year, numbers are low for minority communities.

Dugenio is Filipino-American.

“We need to swab. We need marrow,” his mom said. “We need a donor for my son.”

While the drive is focused on Dugenio’s life, he hopes if not his it’ll save someone else’s life.

“There are people in need, not just me. We are doing this for everyone who has bone marrow issues or cancer,” he said. “People signing up for this registry, it's not just for me. It's for all those people too. So it will help them too.”

Students will wear red on Friday. It is Dugenio’s favorite color. The drive will be at Heritage High School all day Friday.

For more info on Be The Match, click here.