Church donor drive to find perfect matches

Written by Ian Flanegan – email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Hope came to a cancer-stricken 6-year-old through a community-led bone marrow registration drive Saturday at a church in southeast Charlotte.

Jordan Jemsek was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2009, just 3 days after her mother received word she had breast cancer.   When members of St. Gabriel Catholic Church found out, they set up a drive to register bone marrow donors.

"We haven't found her perfect match yet," says Yvonne Hargrove, organizer of the drive.  She says they're in search of a better bone marrow match for the kindergartner at Sharon Elementary School.  Her doctors say a transplant would save Jordan's life.

But the drive isn't just for Jordan.

"This could be a life-saving measure for many other people out there," says Dr. Christine Bolen, one of Jordan's doctors present at the drive.  "People who register today could be called to donate 20, 30 years from now."

Registering donors are given a mouth swab test to catalog their DNA to the National Bone Marrow Registry, which now has over 2.6 million names.

To pay for today's swab tests, Presbyterian Hospital donated $20,000 and Tom's Snacks with Lance also donated $6,500.  More than 400 people registered at the church today.

"It's a really incredible feeling knowing that you've helped save someone's life," says Andrea McGavin, who saved a life 5 years ago when she donated her bone marrow.  She says her recipient had a 1% chance of living without her donation.  "I donated and she received it the same day," she says.

For more information on how to become a bone marrow donor visit GetSwabbed.org.

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