Swabtember

There are thousands of patients from different backgrounds that are suffering with different blood diseases, but they all have one thing in common: their lives can be saved by donors. Every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer and for many patients, a bone marrow transplant is their only chance for survival. While 30 percent find a matching donor in their families, 70 percent of patients — nearly 14,000 a year — must rely on a benevolent stranger to donate. These 14,000 patients may work with different doctors or follow different treatment regimens, but in the end they rely on a stranger for a second chance at life.

This #Swabtember, you can help! We created this month to highlight the various awareness themes during September. Childhood Cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma, and Sickle Cell Anemia. Why do we call it #Swabtember? Because we all have the chance to‪ #‎GetSwabbed for patients in need of a life-saving match.

Join the movement to save lives during Swabtember

Register

SICKLE CELL AWARENESS

PATIENT

Nyiah is an 11-year-old girl from Illinois. She is an elementary school student and who loves summer, playing video games, and cheerleading.

Nyiah was born with sickle cell disease (SCD). At a very early age, she suffered a stroke, leaving her with some paralysis.

DONOR

Jasmine DeBerry donated to an eight-year-old with sickle cell disease. Her family kept thanking me for saving her life but little did they know Rosemarie changed my life forever. She’s the strongest kid I know. Seeing her healthy brought me so much joy. I am living proof that even ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

SURVIVOR

Tiffany was a little girl who loved going to school, riding her bike and taking dance classes despite fighting sickle cell disease. But by the time she turned 10, she was in crippling pain and couldn’t attend school or continue dancing. When a journalist asked Tiffany what hurt, she answered “Everything, most of the time.”

 

Given all of her treatments and many rounds of chemotherapy, she will need a bone marrow transplant to have the best shot at life. Since African Americans only make up 7% of the donor pool, it is very difficult for Nyiah to find a matching donor.

Nyiah is looking for a bone marrow donor so she can live the life of a normal 11-year-old. You can help patients like Nyiah beat the odds by registering as a potential donor.

CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS

PATIENT

When you look at little Bryson Hendricks, you can’t help but see his vibrant energy and a carefree wonder for life. What you don’t see is a battle taking place inside his body that no child should have to fight.

DONOR

I thought about all of the milestones she would not be able to experience, and the idea of giving those moments back to someone was so powerful.

SURVIVOR

For little Owen Hogan, playtime means normal childhood fun. But for his parents, Tim and Kathleen, the joyful moments they spend watching their healthy, active son play mean so much more. Because not long ago, Owen’s life was in jeopardy.

 

Two-year-old Bryson has been diagnosed with a very rare type of hyper IGM syndrome, which essentially means he has no white blood cells. Bryson is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, Bryson’s Native American heritage makes his search for a match extremely challenging. Native Americans make up only 1% of the donor pool. Patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity, and the number of Native American registered donors is small.

Bryson will need a successful bone marrow transplant to have a healthy shot at life.

 

Back in 2013, things seemed perfect: Tim and Kathleen were preparing to move to a new home, their second child was on the way, and Owen was an energetic, happy two-year-old. When Owen first began developing bruises, his parents were not too concerned. Then, their doctor delivered a diagnosis that turned the family’s life upside down: Owen suffered from severe aplastic anemia, a debilitating blood disorder.

After months of intense treatment, when his health was not improving, Owen's doctors delivered more devastating news: Owen needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. With their son’s life on the line and no matching donor on the registry, the family hosted a series of donor registration drives in their community. Soon, Owen’s moving story inspired drives across the country – even receiving support from actor Steve Buscemi. Within three months, Owen had a matching donor!

Owen received his transplant in 2014 and has shown steady gains in health and activity – much to the immense delight of his parents.

While Owen grows and gets stronger, Tim and Kathleen continue to share their son’s story, with amazing results. As of November 2015, the family’s efforts have motivated more than 2,000 people to swab and join the donor pool,, leading to nearly 20 matches for patients in need of a transplant.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

PATIENT

Justin is a 33-year-old husband and father from St. Louis, MO, who was diagnosed in November 2015 with Lymphoma. After going through extensive chemotherapy treatments, he received a stem cell transplant from his own stem cells, and now doctors say he needs a bone marrow transplant by the end of the year to remain in remission.

DONOR

My wife and I happened to be in a Sayville, New York, one afternoon and knew of a bone marrow drive that was taking place. We stopped by and were swabbed-the process was extremely easy.

SURVIVOR

Kenza is now a happy, smiling, bubbly two-year-old toddler living in Frisco, TX with her family. She loves watching Elmo and play time with her mom and dad. But things weren't always this enjoyable for this sweet little girl.

 

Justin is always thinking of the well-being of others and has been involved in cancer support groups in the St. Louis area. He also started an entertaining blog called “Then I Got Cancer,” where he shares his point of view and positive outlook in battling his disease. Help give this blogger the opportunity to write about how he became cancer free by registering to be a donor.

 

When Kenza was just nine months old, she presented cold-like symptoms and had swollen lymph nodes so like most mothers, Kenza's mom took her to the doctor for a checkup. At the appointment, her family received the devastating news that Kenza has AML (acute myeloid leukemia). AML is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets.

The only treatment for survival for Kenza would be to receive a bone marrow transplant within the next eight weeks. Finding a bone marrow match during this time span was near impossible due to Kenza's South Asian heritage and the lack of Asian representation in the donor pool.

At 13 months, Kenza was in remission and waiting for a transplant which she received from her father who was a half-match and allowed Kenza to undergo a haplo transplant. Thankfully, the transplant was a success and one month after, Kenza was home. Now Kenza can grow up and continue to be a happy, fun loving little girl among her parents and sister Noura.

Hispanic Heritage Awareness Month

PATIENT

Maritza is a devoted hard working single mother to her 19 year old daughter Chelsea. Maritza lives in California and currently works in the law field. In her spare time Maritza enjoys to hike, be on the beach, and reading self improvement books.

DONOR

Melissa Gonzalez began 2014 with some big news: she was a match.

“I found out on New Year’s Eve -- it was an amazing way to start the year!

SURVIVOR

Emma is a joyful little girl who loves the movie Frozen and her puppy, Lola. She brings her radiant smile with her everywhere she goes, even on visits to the hospital. You’d never know it from her sunny disposition, but Emma has battled cancer for most of her life.

 

Last year, Maritza was diagnosed with leukemia. In order for her to have a healthy shot at life, she will need a bone marrow transplant. Because of Maritza’s ethnicity, it is difficult for her to find a matching donor. Hispanic Americans make up only 10% of the donor pool, making it challenging for Latino patients to find a matching donor. As of now, there are no matching donors in her family. She has turned to the DKMS to find a matching bone marrow donor.

 

In 2012, when Emma was four, her health took another devastating turn. She was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. After an intense regimen of chemotherapy, Emma fought her cancer into remission. In December 2014, she received her last treatment. "It looked like she had beaten it," Paul said.

Sadly, Emma’s leukemia returned in April 2015, and a bone marrow transplant was her best chance for long-term survival. Because of her ethnicity, Emma’s chances of finding a match were slim. Hispanic donors make up only 10 percent of the donor pool.

Luckily, Emma was able to get a bone marrow transplant and is doing well.