Cumberland Times-News

October 5, 2012

Bone marrow registry: Be the match, save lives

2 residents in need of transplants, ages 43 and 8

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — A three-pronged effort to add donor names to the National Bone Marrow Registry (www.marrow.org) will take place Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 in Allegany County.

Area residents ages 18 to 44 will have the opportunity to Be The Match and save lives.

The program’s schedule is as follows:

• Oct. 11 — Frostburg State University’s Lane Center, noon to 6 p.m.

• Oct. 12 — Allegany College of Maryland, Allied Health Building, 9 a.m. to noon.

• Oct. 13 — Christ Lutheran Church, 1222 Vocke Road, LaVale, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Two local people in need of bone marrow transplants are Troy Todd, 43, and Caden Helmstetter, 8.

“It would be great if someone who comes in would match up with one of these individuals, but if not, they may be able to help someone in need elsewhere,” said the Rev. Charles Erzkus, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church.

Erzkus officiated at Todd’s wedding and baptized his son, Ryan, now 4.

When Todd, a healthy, athletic UPS driver, found himself with shortness of breath and decreased energy, blood tests found acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant are needed for a cure. In August, it was determined that no matches existed within his family or on the Be The Match Registry.

Jenny Bramble, an intern at Christ Lutheran Church, said getting checked to become a donor is simple.

“All it takes is a cheek swab and the potential donors can do the swabs themselves,” she said.

At ACM, students in occupational therapy and nursing will be available to help. Christ Lutheran Church will have nurses on hand.

The actual bone marrow donation is poorly understood by the public, according to Erzkus.

“The most common donation comes from the donor’s blood,” Bramble confirmed. With much less frequency does the donation come from within the pelvic bone and that is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia.

Rarely are donors required to travel. Donations take place on the donor’s home turf and the marrow is transported to the part of the country where a recipient matches up.

Christ Lutheran Church will also host a fundraising spaghetti dinner Oct. 13 from noon to 3 p.m.

Erzkus said there is a one-in- 540 chance that a potential donor will match with a recipient.

“It is very important to note that donors don’t pay any money in the process,” Erzkus said. “The registry takes care of any donor costs.

“It’s incredible,” Erzkus said, “that with the grace of God working through advanced medicine that we are able to save lives.”

Additional information is available at

• www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/TeamTroy

• www.christlutheranlavale .org

• Facebook at “Friends of Troy Todd.”

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.