A Father’s Plea for Bone Marrow Donations to Perhaps Save His Son

A plea from a father in Spain is a good impetus for another post on the critical needs for bone marrow donations to aid persons facing cancer. The short version of the story is that bone marrow cells contain numerous stem cells for white, red and other forms of blood cells. Transplants of bone marrow cells are key for many persons facing first time cancers, and are likewise key for many people facing relapses after their tumors mutate or move out of an indolent state.

Bone marrow needs continue to increase because childhood cancer rates continue to rise in the US and around the world, and because genetic diversity is making it even harder to find matching donors. Please, register to donate – it’s easy to register in the US ( you mail in a cotton swab after running it across the inside of your mouth). Today, unlike the past, donation of marrow cells also is usually easy. The marrow cells usually (not always) can be harvested from a donor through a blood draw instead of extracting marrow from the bone. And, registering does not obligate you – it simply opens the door to the future possibility that you personally could save the life of another person.

Every 10 minutes, someone in the US dies from a blood cancer, such as the leukemia trying to kill a little boy in Spain. Around the world, the death toll is even greater. Please help – go to bethematch.org and register to potentially save a life by donating bone marrow cells.

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Set out below is the story from Spain as it appears on Yahoo, written by Cesar Finca:

"César Finca, Yahoo! Spain 1 hour ago

The following story has been translated from Yahoo! Spain and is, unfortunately, about a relatively common tragedy: a child with leukemia who needs to find a compatible bone marrow donor. And the key to finding a donor is having lots and lots of people get their blood tested. So rather than simply view this story as a local event, Yahoo.com has decided to publish it in English with the hope that just one more U.S. reader will be touched, get tested, and actually be that match. Please click here to learn more on how to help.

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"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

This legendary quote from Muhammad Ali sounds everyday in Eduardo Schell’s mind when he wakes up. His son Matthew, who is three months old, suffers leukemia and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. Doctors only gives a 1 percent chance to find someone compatible, but his family still has hope.

"I thought it was just an episode of fever, we would never expect something like that, but you only have two choices in your life when that kind of things happens to you: sink or fight," says Eduardo, engaged in a short-term career to save the life of Matthew.

Since he learned of the bad news, Eduardo, who is a sports journalist, looked for support in his profession. He did find it. In two hours, he became trending topic at Twitter thanks to the hashtag #M4M and also a battery of famous athletes (Rafael Nadal, Iker Casillas, Fernando Torres, etc.) helped.

That’s when Eduardo and his family decided to create a website to help Matthew and many other leukemia patients. Since it was launched a week ago, it has received nearly 700,000 visits.

The goal is clear: they want to simplify the information as much as possible to enable people to get tested. "There is not much marrow donor and we believe it is more due to ignorance," says Matthew’s father. He’s true: to donate, you just have to get a blood test, which is sent to the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide. Then, if they find you are compatible to a leukemia patient in the world, they tell you and you can save his life with a simple cord blood collection.

Lack of resources

The awareness movement has generated a huge success: more than 2,600 people halve already donated. Unfortunately, some centers in Spain have been overwhelmed. “Many people has told us they have called the centers for four days, but they haven’t picked up the phone,"says Eduardo.

The efforts have reached such a point that in several parts of the country health teams are working overtime, setting up field hospitals in different locations. "I wish that everyone who wants to donate bone can do despite the impediments," he pleads.

Help from all over the world

The aid, however, not only comes from Spain: Eduardo and his family had the web translated into English, which explains the steps to donate in each of the regions. What’s very moving from this difficult situation is that actually this initiative will have a global impact, as will generate more people willing to contribute, not only for Matthew.

Since Matthew became ill, his parents also have been in touch with other families stricken by leukemia: "Everyone has his own campaign, but we are looking at what can we do together; the more people will donate bone, the more options there are for all,” notes Edward.

At the end of the day, after all this tireless work, all Matthew’s family waits for a phone call which could tell Edward that one single compatible person has appeared: "We know that it’s very hard; we have many times of downturn, it’s like a roller coaster, but if you fall seven times, you have to get up eight, each time with a smile."

For more information on how to be tested, visit http://marrowformathew.com."

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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