California: Liyna was born and raised in Southern California and is of Hyderabadi-Indian descent. She is the granddaughter of Mr. Syed Hashim Ali, IAS (Indian Administrative Service) who was the Principal Secretary to the government of Andhra Pradesh, Consultant to the World Bank and after his retirement, served as Vice Chancellor of Osmania University and Aligarh Muslim University.
She attended UCLA where she majored in Anthropology, and minored in Society and Genetics. During her university years, she pursued radio and journalism, and also actively participated in a program dedicated to mentoring at-risk and under-served students in the Los Angeles area.
It may be mentioned that Liyna is a brilliant journalist who spent the last almost 5 years in New York working as a Producer for StoryCorps. Every Friday, she would bring listeners all over the nation poignant stories of everyday people in their everyday lives, reminding us all of our shared humanity. In November 2018, she moved back home to Southern California after landing her dream job as a Senior Producer at the Los Angeles Times to lead their new podcast division.
Diagnosis of ‘acute myeloid leukemia’
Only weeks later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia.
She needs a blood stem cell/bone marrow transplant as her best chance for a cure. The problem is, she did not match with anyone in her family, nor any of the 19 million people on the American national registry. One has the best chance of matching with someone of their own ethnic background, and South Asians only make up 2% of the Registry, making it especially hard for those of Indian origin to find a match.
Within weeks of Liyna’s diagnosis, her family and friends came together to form Team Liyna, which started the “Swab For Liyna” campaign and has been leading registration drives in cities all over the United States to spread awareness and get more donors on the registry.
How to register
Liyna’s family has also partnered with DATRI, India’s national blood stem cell/bone marrow registry. DATRI has held over a dozen drives for Liyna in Hyderabad and Kerala, where Liyna’s roots are, and over 1,000 people have registered so far. Blood stem cell/bone marrow donation is not painful, and if one matches, it is literally life-saving.
It may be noted that Liyna is ready for her transplant now, but has STILL not found her perfect match. This is an urgent call to action. We request all those who are able and would like to help save a life to sign up to get their cheek swab kit at datri.org/join.