Saturday event at Osage Centre encouraging people to become marrow donors

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saving a life can be as simple as a cheek swab and an application form.

Gabby Carter is just like any other kindergartner at Clippard Elementary on the outside, but on the inside she is suffering from sickle cell anemia and needs a bone-marrow transplant.

At 8 a.m. Saturday at the Osage Centre, the public will be able to join the "Be the Match" bone marrow registry for free. The Cape Girardeau County Area Medical Alliance is hosting a Monster Match 5K Race to reach potential bone marrow donors.

The cost to enter the race is $30, with proceeds going to Be the Match registry. Registration for the race will begin at 7 a.m. outside the Osage Centre, with the race starting at 8 a.m. The registry is not just limited to race participants; it is open to the public as well starting at 8 a.m.

"Normally, to be on the Be the Match Registry the cost is around $100," Medical Alliance member Emily Lavalle said. "We are offering free cheek swabs and free registry at the race Saturday. We will be there from 8 a.m. until noon inside the Osage Centre."

The Medical Alliance will also be having a registry drive from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday for those unable to attend Saturday morning. It will be held at the Auburn Place Hotel in Cape Girardeau.

Dr. Stan Sides, a hematologist with Cape Medical Oncology, said there is a need for bone marrow donors.

"When you have so many people with leukemia and cancers of the bone marrow or other diseases that won't respond to therapy, we will try to wipe out their bone marrow or wipe out the cancer with a bone-marrow transplant, also known as an allogeneic transplant," Sides said. "We give the bone marrow or the stem cells from another person to save them from dying from a wiped-out marrow."

However, family members are not always a match for a bone-marrow transplant. That's where the registry comes in.

Gabby Carter has been struggling with sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that affects her red blood cells, since she was 2 months old. After many different treatments and hospital visits, Gabby is now on the Be the Match registry waiting for a donor to save her life. Her mother, Debbie Carter, said Gabby receives chronic blood transfusions monthly to help with the pain but won't be able to receive them forever.

"The sickle cell can and will start to affect Gabby's organs," Carter said. "The chronic blood transfusions do help, but the more transfusions she gets the less effective it will be and they will start to damage her body. We are now on the registry because Gabby can't continue to get the transfusions."

None of Gabby's family members are a match. Gabby has been on the registry since March.

"If Gabby gets a bone marrow donor to match, and her body accepts the marrow, then her body will be cured of sickle cell," Carter said.

For more information, call Lavalle at 275-1368.

Pertinent address:

625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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