'Lion King' cast unites to find actress marrow donor

Eleven-year-old Shannon Tavarez, who starred in the Broadway musical "The Lion King" and suffers with Leukemia, talks about her acting experiences at her home in the Bellrose section of Queens, New York, Friday, July 16, 2010. Tavarez had just returned from a bone marrow aspirate, a 3-part procedure which follows each round of chemotherapy. (AP Photo/Rick Maiman)

July 23, 2010 9:48:35 AM PDT
The cast and crew of Broadway's "The Lion King" are coming together for a bone marrow donor registration drive for a young star in the show.

Last year, 11-year-old Shannon Tavarez won the coveted role of young Nala in "The Lion King." But then in April she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and began chemotherapy. Her doctors now say that a bone marrow transplant is her best hope for survival.

Today, Tavarez's Lion King cast members are holding a bone marrow drive hoping to find a donor match for Shannon.

"We were all devastated, but we rallied together and found out what needed to be done," said Alvin Crawford, Lion King cast member.

" They're having a drive in the lobby," said Tavarez, "and I hope a lot of people come out because they can save my life or anyone else who's going through what I'm going through."

Doctors are having trouble finding her a match because Shannon is part African-American, and part Hispanic. Of the 7 million Americans listed as potential donors, only 12 percent are minorities.