In some unfortunate news, 11 year old and Broadway’s “The Lion King” star Shannon Tavarez lost her battle with AML, acute myelogenous leukemia. The actress succumbed to her illness on Monday afternoon at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, Long Island.
Originally from Queens Shannon was awarded the role of lion Nala when she wowed producers on her very first audition. She was diagnosed with the disease last April when she suddenly began to experience pain in her lower back and legs.
Although she had received an umbilical-cord blood transplant in August, a bone marrow match for Shannon could not be found. According to reports from MyFoxBoston.com, the search for a match was especially daunting because Shannon’s mother is African-American and her father is Hispanic, from the Dominican Republic. For bone marrow transplants, minorities and those of mixed ancestry have a more difficult time finding good matches because there aren’t as many people from those groups signed up as potential donors. Right now, 83 percent of African-American patients who need marrow transplants don’t find matches after six months of searching, according to the National Marrow Donor Program, a non profit organization dedicated to helping patients receive transplants.
Celebs including Alicia Keys, Rihanna and 50 Cent all campaigned on behalf of Tavarez in order to find a donor.
After receiving news of her demise, pop star Rihanna tweeted, “Just got off of a plane ride and got horrible news that our little star Shannon Tavarez has lost her battle against leukemia! Way too soon … keep her family in your prayers.”
Read Shannon’s Bio via matchshannon.com