Thursday, September 25, 2008

Save Donovan Sands

Okay, New Englanders (and everyone else too). This Sunday there is a bone marrow drive at Lasell College in Newton, MA to help find a bone marrow donor for 8 year-old Donovan Sands. Donovan has Dyskeratosis Congenita, a variant of which disease caused my Aplastic Anemia. Donovan will not survive without a transplant, and neither would I have. And having lived through the fear and drama of such a thing, I can barely bring myself to ponder the same situation for an 8 year-old and his parents.

So if you are in the area, please go give a cheek swab (no needles, I promise!) and see if you might be his match. If you aren't local, please consider registering with the National Marrow Donor Program. Even if you're not a match for Donovan, you might still save someone. My donor, Jaime, was on the registry because she attended a drive for a family friend. She wasn't a match for her, but she was for me. Sheer luck and circumstance (and HLA-typing) brought us together. I KNOW that Donovan Sands has a match. Everyone in the world has a match. But if you're not on the registry, we don't know you're there. You're sitting on one measly pint of stem cells that might keep an 8 year-old alive.

So. Off your bone marrow-rich hindquarters--and hie thee to a drive. Thank you.

From the Newton TAB:
Donovan Sands is an 8-year-old who is suffering from a highly rare, but terminal genetic disease. He has Dyskeratosis Congenital (also called Zinsser-Cole-Engman syndrome), a malady affecting fewer than 200 people worldwide. The disease is curable, but Donovan’s only chance for survival is a bone marrow transplant and, so far, no matches have been found in the Bone Marrow Donor Program registry.

Donovan’s family and friends are teaming with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to hold bone marrow drives. There will be a drive at Lasell College (De Witt Hall), 80 Maple St., Newton, on Sunday, Sept. 28, noon-4 p.m.

The screening process is painless and takes only a couple of minutes. Human Leukcyte Antigen tissue type is what the donor program registry uses to match patients to donor. The donor’s HLA is identified by testing a sample from the inside of a cheek with a swab to come up with HLA type. Testing is done for potential donors between 18- and 60 years old. Potential donors who are not available on drive dates can still be screened. A mail-in test kit can be provided by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Call Dana Farber at 866-875-3324, or e-mail

Donors need to be willing to donate to any patient in need and meet the health guidelines. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed. To learn more about the National Marrow Donor Program, visit

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