Bone Marrow Donor from Jackson Helps Save a Life

Monday, October 22, 2012
Jenni and Adam Wachter play with their son Wade at their home in Jackson.

When Jenni Wachter read a newspaper story about a planned bone marrow registry drive last October, she knew that she and her husband Adam needed to sign up.

That night, she and Adam, signed up at the Be the Match RegistryŽ drive in Cape Girardeau, organized by the Cape Girardeau County Area Medical Society Alliance and sponsored by SoutheastHEALTH.

For the Jackson couple, the need for bone marrow donors hits close to home. Their one-year-old son Wade has Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a bone marrow disorder that could develop into leukemia. In that case, Wade would need a bone marrow transplant to save his life.

"We first learned about it last summer," Jenni says of Wade's condition. In early October 2011, the Wachters received the results of genetic testing which confirmed the diagnosis.

Registering was easy, they say. The DNA of potential donors is collected via simple cheek swabs.

A Perfect Match

In February 2012, Adam, who works in construction, received a call on the job site from Be the Match, the national registry of potential bone marrow donors. Adam was potentially a match for a 61-year-old man. The identity of donors and recipients are kept confidential by the registry throughout the donation process.

A blood test was performed to see if Adam's bone marrow was a perfect match. It was. He received daily injections of a drug to boost the production of blood cells for four days prior to the April 12, 2012, blood donation and another injection on the day his blood was drawn.

"It basically was pumping up his bone marrow," Jenni says of the injections. Adam says the injections made him feel achy and fatigued.

A Life Saver

The donation process, conducted at a St. Louis hospital, lasted about six hours. Blood was extracted from one arm and cycled through a machine which extracted stem cells from the blood. The remaining blood was pumped back into his body through his other arm.

He returned home the same day. "Within 24 hours after the donation, I was back to feeling like my normal self," he says.

Adam says it was all worth it. "I was able to save a person's life," he notes. "It was pretty neat, a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

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