A Montreal family is desperately searching for a bone marrow donor for their six-year-old daughter, who is battling leukemia for the second time.

"I promised her since she was born, my most important job is being a mom and taking care of her and this is how I’m trying to do that right now,” said Ellie White's mother Amanda Sokoloff.

“The more options the better,” said Sokoloff. “It’s a terrifying thought that the person could be next door. We don’t know who it could come from.”

Hema-Quebec spokesperson Laurent Paul Menard said finding a match isn’t necessarily that simple.

“It’s like having the perfect combination for the Lotto 6/49,” he said. “It’s not that easy because we have over 15 million combinations.”

Further complicating things is that unlike blood, bone marrow can’t be kept in reserve and must be transplanted within 48 hours. While Hema-Quebec does do sign-up drives trying to register as many donors as possible, only three per cent on the list are a potential match.

There are also registries that serve the rest of Canada and the United States. 

Anyone in Quebec between the ages of 18 and 35 can send away for a bone marrow testing kit which contains four swabs and puts the recipient on a worldwide list of donors. Currently in Quebec, about 40,000 people are registered.

Menard said Hema-Quebec has considered taking swabs from young people who give blood, but the program has yet to launch.

As for Ellie, her mother said she maintains hope.

“She has found strength none us knew was even there,” she said.

To register as a bone marrow donor in Quebec

To register as a bone marrow donor in the rest of Canada

To register as a bone marrow donor in the United States

To register as a bone marrow donor if over 35

For updates, follow the "Swab for Elie" Facebook page.