Marrow drive aids Truckee boy
On Aug. 28, 1999, 3-year-old Zachary Hanham of Truckee was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of lymphoma. While Zachary – the son of Teri McKinney and Doug Hanham and the grandson of Rob and Jeanie McCarthy – is currently in remission, he may need blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant to survive.
Zachary’s disease is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma with a rare chromosome split called the Philadelphia Split or 9/22 Translocation.
While his family has been unsuccessful in finding a bone marrow match in the family thus far, they are hoping to increase Zachary’s chances by holding blood and bone marrow drives in Truckee, sponsored by the Sacramento Medical Foundation Blood Centers. The first drive will be Tuesday, April 25, from noon to 6 p.m. at Tahoe-Truckee High School.
“Maybe we’ll find a closer match,” Jeanie McCarthy said. “But we’re also doing this for other people as well. There are only 100,000 marrow donors worldwide; and there are so many people out there waiting and not surviving.”
Zachary’s chemotherapy treatment ends in June, and McCarthy said that is when they will have to decide on any options available. A possible umbilical cord match is available for a transplant at Duke University in North Carolina, but chances of success aren’t as high as the family would like. There is also a bone marrow match, but doctors said it is risky and there are possibilities for a better match.
“Basically, his road map is finishing in June and we’re looking at a real serious decision,” McCarthy said. “Maybe we’ll get a miracle and he’ll survive. It’s painful to watch this happening. It’s a slow process.”
By signing up as a potential marrow donor and giving blood at Tuesday’s drive, community members will help improve Zachary’s chance of survival, as well as others in need of matches. Donors can give a pint of blood for the Truckee community supply through the SMF Blood Center and will have an opportunity to sign up for the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry. Patients undergoing treatment for diseases like cancer or leukemia may require a large number of blood transfusions during therapy.
To give blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 with parent consent), weigh at least 110 pounds (a smaller unit may be collected if you weigh less) and be in generally good health. There is no upper age limit to give blood. The entire blood donation process only takes about an hour from beginning to end. There are four simple steps: registration, medical history/mini physical, blood donation and rest and refreshments.
To sign up for the NMDP registry, you must be between the ages of 18 and 60. All that is needed is one additional type of blood for tissue typing. This is a small sample of blood (about two tablespoons). Signing up for the registry means that your blood will be tissue typed and your name and tissue type will be listed in a national, computerized database for access when patients are searching for a matching donor.
A grant will fund the testing fee for the first 100 Caucasian individuals. Minorities are under-represented in the NMDP registry and a special grant from The Marrow Foundation pays for the cost of tissue typing for Latinos and other minorities.
The drive will be held in the cafeteria of the high school. Please bring a photo I.D. and drink plenty of fluids. The next blood and marrow drives will be held on June 20, Aug. 22, Oct. 24.
For information about the blood and marrow drive in Zachary’s honor, contact the SMF Blood Centers at (800) 995-4420, ext. 322.
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