The Next 24 Hours are Critical

From my Newspaper Column for the SNP

She has removed the password from his Caring Bridge site, because she wants to spread the word. Seth needs prayers. The next 24 hours are critical. Feb 5, 2010 was supposed to be a day of celebration. The date would have marked the end of Seth’s 6-year battle with leukemia. Instead, Seth received more chemotherapy for the illness that was supposed to leave the 13-year-old alone by now. They also received the devastating news that not one of his 3 sisters is a bone marrow donor match.

Yesterday, a throbbing headache led Seth back to the hospital, where they learned he is now septic. He has no white cells to fight the infection. You can read the details and updates here.

All I can think about is the day, 9 years ago, when Seth was dressed like Robin Hood, running around the tree house in our backyard. Wendi, loving mom, made the costume. She made all of Seth’s costumes — including the Obi-Wan Kenobi , Buzz Lightyear, and Jedi Knight costumes. We were always impressed by her talent. The sun lit up Seth’s golden hair, and his blue eyes twinkled at me as he gripped his light saber, wondering if I was going to take away the light sabers because they were all hitting too hard. Our boys were so young and small then; we could pick them up with one arm, and hold them tight. All day long, I’ve been stuck on that day, trying to will it back. I just want to help my friend.

But we are not there. We are here. His parents want to help spread the word about bone marrow donations. I will do my part. Wendi says, “It’s one of the few organs you can donate without being dead to do it.”

Each year, we donate our blood to stock the blood banks, and this is as routine as filling up the car with gas. But how many of us have ever considered donating our bone marrow?

For some, fear is the reason we’ve never considered this gift. Fear can always be traced to unknowns. Here is what is known: No pieces of your bone are taken. Seventy five percent never need surgery; in most cases you’ll only need to give peripheral blood stem cells, which is similar to donating plasma. A bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure, done under anesthesia. Yet, both are treated as outpatient, and you go home the same day. Some donors are sore afterwards; some are not. In 2-7 days, most donors are back to normal. Most donors say they would do it again to save a life.

Thanks to advances in medicine, many of us will be hearing more about transplants; they’re increasingly becoming a path to save lives. Sometimes, it’s the only hope people have. Just like Seth, over 70 percent are unable to find a donor match within their family. Yet, even with a registry of millions, many patients still cannot find a match.

You can visit to join the Be The Match Registry online. They’ll mail you a kit so that you can simply swab your cheeks at home and mail it back. Or, you can register in person February 20 at Premier Women’s Health, (614-459-1000 Ext 2007), from 8 a.m.– 1 p.m.

Since he won’t be getting a bone marrow transplant from one of his sisters, Seth hopes to get his marrow from “someone famous…. that would be cool.” Wendi wrote on Seth’s Caring Bridge web page, “In my eyes, the person who shares this gift of life with my son may not be famous, but will be truly heaven sent. An angel. A lifesaver. What more could you ever hope to be in this world?”

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4 comments to “The Next 24 Hours are Critical”
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