Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Donation That Makes Hopes And Dreams Come True

NAPSI-Every day someone makes the decision to save a life by becoming a marrow donor.

It’s a step that can save the life of the person who needs the marrow donation but it also helps transform the lives of those who donate.

Jackie Byrd is a good example of a person who gave a little bit of herself so that someone else could live. When she was in college she pledged a sorority with a community service project focused on raising awareness in the African American community about the need for more people to join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry.

When Byrd joined the Registry she recalls thinking, “It will never happen to me. I will never be called. I’m not the one--I’m not the chosen one.”

Many years later, Byrd did receive the call. She was asked to visit her local donor center for additional tests to confirm that she was indeed a match for a patient searching for a second chance of life. A week later a coordinator from the center called to tell her, “You are the one.”

Byrd’s commitment to donate her marrow was something she took very seriously. “As a teacher, I believe in children and I believe in lives, and if I’m going to walk the talk, this was something I had to do. There was no turning back once I was chosen.”

More than 6,000 men, women and children a day search the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for a life-saving donor. These patients have leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases for which a marrow transplant could be their only hope for a cure. Patients like Paizley Carwell Bowens.

Paizley was born with sickle cell anemia--an inherited blood disorder that caused her to spend much of her life in and out of hospitals and in constant pain. Even though chemotherapy helped, it was not a cure.

Paizley’s doctors told her mother that she would need a marrow transplant. According to the NMDP, only 30 percent of patients have a matching donor in their family for a transplant. Unfortunately Paizley’s sister was not a match.

And so began Paizley’s search of the NMDP Registry of nearly 7 million people for a donor who could save her life. A donor who Paizley had never met who would be willing to step up and donate when called. That donor was Byrd.

“I thank God for people who are willing to give a little bit of themselves to bless children like me,” said Paizley. “Thanks to Jackie and all the other people who helped me, I will be able to make my hopes and dreams come true.”

Joining the NMDP Registry is easy. A few minutes of paperwork and a quick swab of the inside of the cheek is all it takes to be added to the Registry.

People who are interested in joining need to meet a few basic requirements: be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet general health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need.

For more information about the National Marrow Donor Program and how you can save a life, visit or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.

Teacher Jackie Byrd provided a life-saving marrow donation to Paizley Carwell Bowens.

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