On Sunday, May 1, Amyʼs Army will hold a bone-marrow drive right here in West Chester. Amyʼs Army is a non-profit organization associated with the National Bone Marrow registry, that searches the country for donors. The drive in West Chester will be sponsored for a little girl named Kali who has leukemia and is in dire need of a transplant. How does one become a donor? First, a blood test is required.
A small sample is taken and is then analyzed by a certified laboratory. All personal information is completely confidential and can only be accessed by transplant center coordinators. A match is found if the potential donorʼs Human Leukocyte Antigen Tissue Type is the same as the patientʼs (essentially, like a fingerprint). The potential donor will then go through a careful process which will eventually lead to the transferring of stem cells themselves.
The Web site for Amyʼs Army goes into greater detail about the process. “When you donate marrow, it is removed with a surgical needle from the back of your pelvic bone. All marrow donors are given either general or local anesthesia. Usually, four to eight tiny incisions are made in the pelvic area. These incisions are so small that stitches are not necessary. The procedure lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. Marrow is constantly regenerating itself and is replaced within several weeks,” said the site. Amyʼs Army was started for a little girl named Amy Katz. She was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in 2003 and continues to fight it with the help of her family and friends.
She is currently on medication but will not have a “true” cure until she finds a donor match. She is also participating in a study for a new type of chemotherapy in hopes that “it will help other kids,”she says on the website.
The bone marrow drive for Kali will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, at Simon and Jude Parish in Cavanaugh Hall, at 8 Cavanaugh Court in West Chester. Those who are unable to donate may be needed as volunteers for greeting, running the registration table, medical screening, directing traffic and preparing ood.
For more information, and for the registration and consent booklet, please visit www.amysarmy.org.