By Monica Griffin
In a small town, word gets around quickly—especially hard news. I had just finished performing in the musical Annie, and the man who played FDR to my Grace was diagnosed with leukemia. It was the first time that I knew someone who had a devastating illness whom I could potentially help. I signed up with the stem cell marrow registry.
Due to the lack of a match, approximately 70% of all patients needing stem cell and bone marrow transplants must find a donor who is outside of their family. And such is the case now for a St. Luke’s member who is facing a devastating disease and needs a stem cell transplant.
In response, and in an effort to encourage, support and serve all families in need of life-saving transplants, on Sunday, May 22, St. Luke’s will host an open stem cell donor registration drive. The process is simple and takes 3-5 minutes. A quick cheek swab will register each person’s HLA tissue type in the national registry. In the United States alone, 20,000 people are on the transplant list, and waiting for a suitable donor. It just takes one person.
So, after I joined the National Marrow Donor Registry I heard nothing for 15 years. Then, just two weeks ago, I received an email saying that I had been identified as a possible match! I was stunned that they found me after all this time. I couldn’t help but think, “Pick me! Pick me!” I can’t think of any greater blessing or reward than to help save a life. And knowing that each of us could be another person’s perfect match is mind-boggling to me. A patient waiting for a transplant is someone’s child, someone’s mother, someone’s friend.