Good Neighbor: Bone marrow drive to honor teen

Sue Guinn Legg • Aug 23, 2013 at 9:18 AM

The Cooperative Appalachian Marrow Program will conduct a bone marrow donor-recruitment drive in honor of 15-year-old Triston Smith on Sunday at Grace Freewill Baptist Church.

Diagnosed as an infant with Chronic Granulomatous Disease, a genetic condition that affects his immune system and makes him susceptible to infections, Triston underwent unsuccessful cord-blood transplant at 18 months. He now needs a bone marrow transplant that doctors believe could cure his condition.

Aside from his ongoing battle against infections, Triston is an active 15-year-old who especially enjoys swimming and Airsoft shooting competitions. His mother, Cindy, has organized Sunday’s drive to help not only her son but thousands of others who also need bone marrow transplants and, like Triston, do not have a matching donor in their family.

According to CAMP, an estimated 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia annually. Their best and sometimes only chance for a cure are the immature stems cells found in the bone marrow of a donor with a matching tissue type. While the most likely match is a sibling or another family member, about 70 percent of patients in need of bone marrow transplants do not have a match in their family, which make need for unrelated donors critical.

“When someone you love has a devastating disease, organizing and holding a recruitment drive is one way we can help Triston as well as all patients who need a donor,” Cindy said.

The drive will be held from 12:30-6 p.m. at the church, at 2110-A Knob Creek Road. The Be The Match Registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program maintains a database of volunteers who agree to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells if they are ever matched with a patient in need.

In order to join the Be The Match Registry, volunteers must be between the ages of 18 and 44 and in good general health. The registration process includes a health questionnaire and cotton swab of the cheek to determine the volunteer’s genetic tissue type. Their tissue type will be entered into the Be The Match Registry and made available to patients around the world who are in need of a lifesaving match.

“Commitment is the key to helping patients, including Triston,” said Linda Hilton, with the regional bone marrow program. “Just as you would want someone to donate to save the life of someone in your family, you need to be willing to donate to save someone else’s family member. Your choice to give the gift of marrow or blood stem cells may cost a few hours of your time, but its long-term value is priceless. It gives someone a second chance at life.”

More than 25,000 volunteers have joined the Be The Match Registry through CAMP, and more than 120 of CAMP’s volunteer donors have donated marrow or blood stem cells to patients around the world. More information about the program may be obtained by calling Hilton at 302-3679 or 866-680-0137.

Eight-year-old Josh Adcock of Jonesborough died a few months ago after a long and courageous battle with Schimke immuno-osseous dysplasia, a rare genetic condition that resulted in his short stature, kidney disease and weakened immune system, but it had no impact on the strength he had to endure it all with a smile on his face.

Admiration of Josh’s fortitude won him the nickname “Little Iron Man,” and to celebrate his bravery, strength and unforgettable smile on what would have been his ninth birthday, The P.H.I.L Foundation (People Helping In Love) and Carter-Trent Funeral Home will host a benefit 5K run/walk to help others with medical expenses. So that Josh’s life will continue to have an impact in his community, the race will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, 116 Oak Ave., in Sulphur Springs.

Josh’s dad, Terry Adcock, said Josh loved the Marvel comics’ superhero Iron Man, whose essence is to take care of other people and make sure they are OK. “That’s how Josh was,” he said. “He loved other people and cared more about making them feel good than how he felt himself.”

And that’s what Sunday’s road race will be about. The $15 registration fee includes a Performance Wear running shirt. Awards will be presented to the top male and female finishers in three age categories. Race-day registration and packet pick-up will begin at 3:30.

The Sulphur Springs Fire Department, which has named their new fire truck “Little Iron Man” in Josh’s honor, will have the truck at the church for kids to climb in and have their pictures made. Door prizes will also be awarded.

For more information about the event, visit www.philfoundation.org or www.cartertrent.com.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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