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Children’s of Alabama is holding its Committed to a Cure Marrow Donor Registry Drive on Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 7 a.m.–5 p.m.
The event will be held in the lobby of the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children Performance Area (1600 5th Avenue South). Free parking is available in Children’s 5th Avenue Parking Deck.
The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s and Be the Match bone marrow donor registry are partnering to help in this regional effort to add potential donors to the national registry of potential bone marrow donors ages 18 to 44. The event is sponsored in part by the Alabama Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
Anyone can easily join the registry by completing a health questionnaire and performing a simple mouth swab. If recognized as a match, they will be contacted about donating.
For those who are unable to attend the event, donor kits with step-by-step instructions can be requested at join.bethematch.org/ChildrensAL.
As a part of the Committed to a Cure Marrow Donor Registry Drive, Jada Lucas, a 22-year-old bone marrow recipient from Bessemer, will meet the donor who helped save her life—Jerome Lewis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“In the field we work in, seeing a patient meet their donor is an actual realization of the work we do on a daily basis,” said Melissa Wallace, program coordinator. “It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine, but being able to see the process full circle is amazing,” she said. “No words can describe what it is like witnessing this opportunity—it will change your life forever.”
Lucas was only nine years old when she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia—a disease in which the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells for the body. After multiple treatments over the years, it was determined that she needed a bone marrow transplant. Lewis had registered with Be the Match when he was a freshman at Elon University, eleven years prior to receiving a call that he was a match. In 2017, he gave Lucas the lifesaving gift.
“I’m very excited to meet him and his family,” Lucas said. “I cannot wait to tell him thank you for seeing me as being worthy of a second chance at life. It will be an experience I’ll never forget.”
More than 90% of all Alabama children diagnosed with cancer or a serious blood disorder are treated at The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s. Each year, approximately 30 of these children require a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. Children’s is the state’s only dedicated pediatric bone marrow transplant facility that specializes in therapies for deadly cancers and blood disorders. Patients who do not have a related donor rely on others from around the world through the Be the Match registry.
“One of the hardest things for a parent to hear is that their child has be to be treated with a bone marrow transplant,” Wallace said. “The next hardest thing is that there is a potential cure, but there is not an available donor. We encourage all people of all backgrounds to register, in order to give each patient a chance at a cure.”
More information about the donor process is available at bethematch.org.
Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 42 other states and seven foreign countries last year, representing more than 677,000 outpatient visits and more than 15,000 inpatient admissions. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is one of the largest pediatric medical facilities in the United States.