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Smith: Healing a young Sebastopol songstress

Emma Donovan of Sebastopol delights at hearing her daughter, Alice, sing.

But it's both sweet and painful for her to hear the 14-year-old entertain smitten nurses at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center. Alice's family and others who care about her are working to get her cured of leukemia and singing back at home and at her middle school, Twin Hills.

The eighth-grader needs a bone-marrow transplant. Her mother's employer, O'Reilly Media, has arranged to hold a marrow drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 4 on the O'Reilly campus on Gravenstein Highway North.

Being tested as a potential marrow donor involves just a cheek swab. In the event of a compatibility match with Alice or another patient awaiting a transplant, the process of becoming a marrow donor is rather more involved. But it has become far simpler than it once was.

Staffers with the Oakland office of Be The Match Donor Registry say ideal candidates usually are 18 to 44 years old. Both of Alice's parents and her sister, Harriett, who's 15, were tested but are not matches for Alice.

Alice was in the hospital for Christmas. Her mom said she and her husband, Steve, and Harriett hope their ailing songbird will be able to return to Sebastopol soon for a late family celebration.

More than that, they yearn to get her cured and home for good.

VERDICT FOR ORCHID: She wasn't born with a law book in her hands, but Orchid Vaghti can't remember a time when she did not aspire to defend the rights of the accused.

Vaghti was just 16 when prominent Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney L. Stephen Turer brought her on as a summer intern. She was 17 when Turer offered her a job as a receptionist, 19 when the lawyer made her his legal assistant.


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