PORT CHARLOTTE — It was a hopeful Christmas for Jakobe “Kobe” Washington’s family, now awaiting results from Thursday’s drive-through cheek swab event.
They are seeking a life-saving bone marrow match for the Punta Gorda boy.
Kobe, 8, had attended Sallie Jones Elementary School until he was diagnosed with T-lymphoblastic leukemia.
Chemotherapy failed to eradicate all of the cancer cells and doctors told Kobe’s parents — Jordan Washington and Imeria Price — a bone marrow transplant could save his life.
The National Marrow Donor Program held a Be The Match event for Kobe on Christmas Eve at Charlotte Sports Park.
“The line of cars was out in the street,” Price said, who described the day as very chaotic.
“We were running around like chickens without their heads,” she said.
The two-hour event began earlier as donors arrived.
“Plenty of people were crying in their cars; they were so emotional,” Price said.
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, North Port Police along with area fire departments turned on their sirens as first responders lined up to get swabbed.
“Sheriff (Bill) Prummell helped with each car that came through,” she added.
After the police, firefighters and EMTs, hundreds of area residents were also swabbed — but some were turned away because of their age.
According to Debiann McIntosh, a volunteer for the Be the Match Registry, the ideal age range for donors is 18 to 44, but they can be older.
During Thursday’s event, about 200 registered online, making a total of about 500 more people on the bone marrow registry who hope that they will be a match for Kobe Washington.
It will be several weeks before the results are known.
Another identical event to keep looking for another match is set from 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 16 at the Walmart in Punta Gorda, McIntosh said.
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