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SALISBURY — The Salisbury Lions Club and Be The Match are hosting a live drive Oct. 10 with hope of finding a bone marrow donor for a local girl who has a rare form of leukemia.
Hailey Stone, 15, of Salisbury has a “very high risk” and rare form of the cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, according to her mother, Jaclyn.
“The first two years were a big struggle,” Stone said of her daughter’s cancer treatment, adding that “anything bad that could happen, happened from blood clots to infections to being allergic and going into anaphylactic shock from the chemo, pancreatitis, diabetes — you name it.”
Stone said her daughter was in remission for about three weeks before she was diagnosed again. This time, Hailey needs to go through “more intense” chemotherapy and radiation and also receive a bone marrow transplant, she said.
Lions Club member C.J. Fitzwater, a neighbor of the Stone family, said he was lucky to receive a heart transplant when he needed it in July. Though the type of transplant Hailey needs is very different, Fitzwater said helping others find the donors they need has become his passion.
By hosting this drive with the Lions Club, Fitzwater hopes a match will be found for Hailey, as well as others around the world through the Be The Match national public registry.
The idea of donating can be daunting and there are a lot of misconceptions about the process, according to Dr. Ron Jacob, an account manager for Be The Match.
First, the live drive is just an opportunity for people to register and see if they are a match. Candidates are ideally between the ages of 18 to 44, living in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, meet certain health guidelines, and are willing to donate to any patient in need.
After answering some questions to determine eligibility and filling out contact information, candidates will then be given a kit with two swabs to grab DNA samples from the mouth. Candidates will then swab the inside of each cheek for at least 10 seconds, “a simple process,” Jacob said.
The DNA samples will then be placed into the registry where Be The Match uses human leukocyte antigen, known as HLA, typing to match donors with recipients.
Jacob said they look for “a perfect match, a 10 out of 10.”
“There is a great need for ethnically diverse donors on the registry,” he said, noting that a person’s race or ethnicity could determine an HLA match.
White people are the most likely to find a committed and willing match on the registry, Jacob said.
“If you are Black or African-American, your chance of finding a match in the registry, and an available and committed donor, is only 23%,” he said, adding that those who are multiracial have less than a 19% chance.
Once a match is made, a doctor will determine which of two methods would be best for donation.
Jacob, who matched and donated to a woman with lymphoma in 2014, said 80% of donations are done by collecting peripheral blood stem cells. This process is nonsurgical. Donors are given a drug called Filgrastim to increase the number of blood-forming cells in their bloodstream.
They take that drug for five days and then go to a blood center or hospital to have blood taken through a needle in one arm. That blood is placed into a machine where the cells are removed and the blood is then returned to the donor through the other arm.
The other method, which is only done 20% of the time, is a surgical procedure where liquid marrow is withdrawn from both sides of the back of the pelvic bone. The donor receives anesthesia and does not feel pain.
“You can literally save a life,” Jacob said.
The live drive will take place at North Shore Realty Group, 91 Bridge Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 10. Those who cannot attend may register online and have a swab kit sent to them.
HOW TO HELP
To learn more or to register at Be The Match, visit https://join.bethematch.org or text HAILEYSTRONG to 61474.
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