Be the Match Registry Drive: How to be an ordinary superhero

Winnie Caskey, Distribution and Archive Manager

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What if I told you the cure for cancer was in the hands of ordinary people like you and me? For patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be their best or only hope for a cure. 

Kathy Black, Lake Land Division Chair Business/Business Instructor, learned about Be The Match® when her niece, Jamee, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. As a single mom with a young child, Jamee went through a round of chemo and experienced remission for nearly a year before the devastating news that her leukemia had returned. A stem-cell transplant was her only hope. As with 70 percent of patients who need a transplant, Jamee did not have a fully matched donor in her family. Jamee’s life depended on Be The Match® to find a compatible donor. Her superhero, a man from the Netherlands, was standing by and answered the call to be a bone-marrow donor just in time. 

Kathy recalls the great disappointment in not being a match to help Jamee. This has been her inspiration and has motivated her to be a hero by coordinating the Be The Match® Registry Drive on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m. where you will meet Jamee and Kathy at the donor registration event.

Tammy Step, of Coles County, Ill, also knows first-hand what it means to have a superhero willing to save her son’s life. Seven-year-old Nicholas has Congenital Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia, which affects platelet production and causes life threatening bleeding disorders. 

When Tammy heard about her son’s superhero, she proclaimed, “THEY FOUND A PERFECT MATCH! Somewhere in the U.S. there is a 26-year-old young man who said ‘yes’ to saving our son’s life. It takes my breath away and fills my eyes with tears in gratitude. He is a 10/10 chromosomal match, has the same blood type, which is rare, and even more rare, his donor is among the 20 percent that has not been exposed to a virus that could be life threatening to Nicholas. He is set up for the very best opportunity for success.” When she told Nicholas the news, he did a cute dance with a song, “I can play sports, any I want. I can be like other kids.” While pumping his fist in the air.

What you can expect at the Be The Match® Registry Drive is a simple registration and cheek swab to collect DNA. Next comes waiting to be matched. About 1 percent of people in the registry are called upon to take the next step for donation, but if you were given the opportunity, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to be a real life superhero?

Be The Match® Registry Drive, Oct. 2, spear-headed by Black, is brought to you by SAB and the Casey Williams Foundation. Come and ask questions, hear testimonials and learn how to be someone’s cure. Black recalls the number of participants in the last drive was beyond anticipation, so let’s do it again.  When speaking with Kathy and Tammy, one thing became clear, this is easy. Visit bethematch.org for more information and to register online. Are you willing to stand by to save a life? 

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