Chicago Greek Constantine Flevaris is battling an aggressive Leukemia, and needs a blood stem cell transfusion. You could Be Kosta’s Match! Find out how.
Be Kosta’s Match
Constantine “Kosta” Flevaris is battling an aggressive cancer, called Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). His best chance at a normal life is a blood stem cell transfusion. Read his story, and learn how you could Be Kosta’s Match.
Kosta was born and raised in Chicago. He attended Socrates School and later, Lane Tech High School, where he graduated #6 in a class of more than 900 students. He earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering, as well as an MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago. While at UIC, Kosta actively organized Greek students to create a Hellenic Student Association (HSA), and promoted cooperation with HSAs from area universities. Kosta speaks 5 languages, and his family describes him as “outgoing and always available to help”.
Currently, Kosta works as a remote customer support engineer for a European company called CargoTech. The company provides cutting-edge technology to crane systems in commercial ports around the globe for the purpose of loading and unloading containers on boats as well as tracking them in the shipyard.
Nick, Kosta’s father, said that his son is immensely proud of being Greek.
“Kosta considers his heritage as his greatest asset and enjoys the utility and richness of the Greek language which he tries to speak every opportunity he gets.”
None of us wants to consider that something could be wrong with us. On his Facebook page, Kosta shared the story of his diagnosis.
“I didn’t know life was going to change, but signs were there. I know because I’d been explaining them away for about a week. The pain in my gums? I’m not flossing well enough. The body bruises? I must’ve hit myself carrying some heavy things. The dizziness? Low on some nutrient. The night sweats? All right, I’ll go to the doctor, after Easter. That plan was not good enough.”
Then one day he experienced fevers, coughs, and chills. By Easter Sunday, his tonsils doubled in size. He went to the ER, and waited several hours with no word on his condition. Finally, the doctor came with news Kosta never dreamed of: he was being transferred to Loyola Hospital, where a bed was waiting.
“The doctor said, ‘You need what’s called a bone marrow biopsy to confirm the sickness you have’.”
At Loyola he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer which typically begins in cells that would turn into white blood cells. Currently, there is no cure for AML, although treatment can make a big difference. Kosta reflected.
“All of my symptoms were classic. Left unchecked, my blood eventually wouldn’t be able to carry oxygen and I’d suffocate, if an infection didn’t get me first. We caught it and I was treated with high- dose intravenous chemotherapy.”
He’s in remission, but at a very high risk for the cancer to return at any time.
Kosta needs a match
Doctors at Rush University Hospital explained how aggressive this form of leukemia can be. A special marker inside the cancerous cells led them to believe that this started early enough in the blood cell’s life cycle that it would likely happen again; his best option for a normal life is a blood stem cell transfusion. Unfortunately, his siblings are not matches. Therefore, the family turned to the worldwide database. Reports show that in America, each year, 14,000+ people a year look to this registry for a match — and not all are successful. Though the registry is queried daily, a match has not been identified, so Kosta will continue chemotherapy until a match is identified.
Although the most likely to match is a biological sibling, another factor for matching is geographic proximity of descent of the individuals. This means that Greeks are more likely to match. So this summer, Kosta’s family and friends launched a massive effort to find a match, specifically someone of Greek descent. They’ve hosted swab drives at Chicago area Greek festivals. Nick said that more than 2000 people have been swabbed — most of them Greek.
One of us could be Kosta’s match. If you’re between the ages of 18-44, in good health, and willing to make the commitment to donate, click here to get swabbed and be added to the registry. If you aren’t a match for Kosta, you could be a match for someone else. The other way to do it is to attend an event with a swab drive, and get swabbed.
UGA Swab Drive for “Be Kosta’s Match”
United Greek Americans (UGA) has signed on to this effort, and will host a Be Kosta’s Match Swab Drive as part of their upcoming Labor Day weekend festivities. Join hundreds of young Greeks from all over the U.S. at the Mykonos Beach Party on Sunday, September 3 from 1-5 pm at Caffe Oliva in Chicago and get swabbed. UGA President Deano Katsis said the venue, with its location on a little-known stretch of beach, reminds him of a Mykonos Beach Bar. There will be volleyball games, bocce ball, and other outdoor sports, and the Greek soccer matches will be broadcast on TV. After you’ve been swabbed, you’ll get baklava and frappe from Yeero Revolution. Ellison Eyewear will be there as well. All proceeds from this event will be donated to Kosta’s family for his medical expenses. You could save a life!
This event is part of a spectacular weekend of events, including Friday night’s Summer Closing Party, featuring DJ Christopher C from Athens at Key Club, on Saturday; UGA Live featuring Kostas Doxas at Shay Nightclub; and on Sunday night, Blue & White Party, Bouzoukia with Enigma at Cuvee Nightclub. Learn more about the UGA Labor Day Weekend and all the events here.
WindyCity Greek is proud to be a media sponsor for UGA’s Be Kosta’s Match Swab Drive
Follow Kosta’s progress & send him good thoughts on the the Be Kosta’s Match Facebook page