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Marrow registry drive set for Jamestown man, cancer patients

A Jamestown man battling leukemia can thank his sisters-in-law for establishing a bone marrow registry drive that could potentially find a marrow donor for him.

The drive is at 1 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Anne Carlsen Center, 701 3rd St. NW, in Jamestown for potential donors between the ages of 18 to 44.

Josh Bond, 27, was diagnosed with acute myloid leukemia on July 11. He has since been undergoing an aggressive course of chemotherapy treatments at Roger Maris Medical Center in Fargo.

Bond’s sisters-in-law, Keela Meza and Halie Mittleider, decided to have a registry drive to find a match for him after doctors ruled out his brother and father as possible donors.

“We kind of collaborated and both had the idea of starting it,” Meza said. “She was kind of the brains behind the paperwork and I did a lot of the advertisements for it.”

Meza said doctors hope Bond’s cancer will go into remission soon, and from there he will be transferred to a facility in Minneapolis to begin the transplant process once a donor is matched.

“Josh is hanging in there,” Meza said. “He’s trying to stay strong mentally. It’s quite a fight for anybody.”

Registrants at the drive will be placed on the national Be The Match registry, which finds donors for patients with diseases like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell anemia.

Mittleider said the registration process is simple and painless. Potential donors will fill out a registration form, show a valid form of identification and a swab sample will be taken from the registrant’s cheek.

“It’s just paperwork than a quick swab inside the cheek and that’s about it,” Mittleider said. “It takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many people are there.”

Many restrictions to donating blood or plasma do not apply to bone marrow, such as tattoos, piercings or living or traveling overseas.

Meza said two local caterers, Carma’s Cakes and Emma Rosie’s Home Cookin’, will be donating “a quantity of desserts to give back to the people that are coming down and registering.” Big Dog Country’s Radio Rover will be doing a remote broadcast from the site of the drive and have donated several door prizes as well.

“They (Big Dog Country) keep giving me more every time I talk to them,” Meza said. “As of right now it sounds like they gave me some Twins tickets, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres tickets, Nickelodeon Universe passes, and they even said they’re probably going to throw in some shirts and CDs and stuff.”

Needle in a haystack

Due to the vast variation in tissue types, only about one in 500 people on its registry will ever go on to donate bone marrow, but every new person on the registry gives patients more hope of finding the match they need, according to the Be The Match website.

“We just try to let people know that it (the drive) is for Josh, but also anybody else that are in need of a match,” Mittleider said. “We just hope to see as many people as we can there.”

If a potential match is found, further blood tests and a physical exam will be given to see if the donor will be a safe, satisfactory match. The typical time for the donation process is 20 to 30 hours over a four- to six-week time period.

The marrow collection is done under general or regional anesthesia so the donor experiences no pain during the extraction, but most donors report common side effects of back or hip pain, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and/or bruising at the incision site. The severities of the side effects vary from person to person. BeTheMatch.org says some donors equate the pain to an achy hip or falling on their buttocks, and most donors are back to their usual routine in a few days. The body replaces the lost marrow in four to six weeks.

Meza said neither the donor nor his or her insurance company will have to pay for any expenses incurred during the donation process, and she is eager to get on the national registry as well.

“We never think of it until something unfortunate happens around you, you know?” Meza said. “I know I feel kind of bad that I wasn’t a donor before this and then it opens your eyes. So I’m waiting to go and get my swab on Monday; I’ll probably be one of the first ones.”

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at dluessen@jamestownsun.com

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