SV FFA hosting bone marrow donor drive

Published 9:47 am Thursday, March 17, 2011

WILLOW WOOD — Is helping people in your blood? Maybe.

The Future Farmers of America students at Symmes Valley High School made a way for you to find out.

Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., the FFA, along with DKMS Americas, will host a bone marrow drive at Symmes Valley High School in the gymnasium with the hope of finding a match for Patrick Hamrick, 33, of Arabia.

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Hamrick was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, in September of 2009. He is now in the James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University needing a bone marrow stem cell donor transplant.

Hamrick’s sister-in-law, Dora Myers, said this could give him a second chance at life.

“He is really desperately in need of the transplant,” Myers said. “This is his final chance. That’s hard for me to say.”

Beth Roberts, agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser, said the FFA chapter president is Hamrick’s niece, and she talked to Roberts about it.

“He has been on the list for a bone marrow transplant and there haven’t been any matches,” Roberts said.

Myers is thankful for the FFA and what they’re doing.

“FFA is a wonderful organization,” Myers said. “Anytime you are in need they are there and will help you with anything. It is a learning experience for the kids.” She said the students at the high school and grade school are also raising money for the cause with Pennies for Patrick.

At Saturday’s drive, cheek swabs will be taken from each person signing up. Between the paperwork and the swabs, it is expected to take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

If a person is a match, they will be contacted about donating.

Roberts said there are two ways to donate if you are a match.

Hamrick needs a peripheral blood stem cell donation, which requires the donor to take daily injections for four days prior to donation. On the day of the donation, the blood is taken from an IV in one arm and passes through a machine to remove the blood stem cells and the remaining blood is returned through an IV in the other arm.

“Our goal is to possibly find a donor for Patrick,” Myers said. “If we do not succeed in a donor for Patrick, hopefully someone else can be helped.” She said by being put in the registry, you may be matched for someone else.

The other way to donate bone marrow is collecting the cells from the pelvic bone through a syringe, which is an outpatient surgical procedure.

“Either way you can be a donor, the main side effect is aching like if you have the flu,” Roberts said. “It is very worth feeling like I have the flu for a few days if it means life to him.”

There are some guidelines for who can register to donate bone marrow. People must be between the ages of 18 to 55 and in good general health. People who have had heart surgery, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea, breathing problems, severe asthma, hepatitis B or C, cancer, stroke, blood clot, breathing disorder, or people who are HIV positive are not eligible to register.

For more information, contact Beth Roberts at 740-643-2371 or Wayne and Nancy Clark at 740-643-2060.