Written by Denise Nash Friday, 29 January 2010 00:00
When Rawot was first diagnosed during her senior year at Duke University, she was confident that after a few months of treatment she would be cancer-free. However, over 18 months later, after enduring countless hours of chemotherapy, a month of radiation, innumerable surgeries, and every herbal remedy available, she is not in remission.
“Amazingly, through losing her hair three separate times, being forced to give up the job of her dreams to stay at Duke for more treatment, and countless doctors’ appointments of disappointing results, her optimism, strength, and perseverance have not wavered,” said Zwilling. “When most would become defeated, Lindsay has only grown stronger at each failed attempt at remission.”
The next step for Rawot is a stem cell transplant, a process that utilizes a matched donor to revamp her entire immune system.
“I have been unable to beat my cancer with my body’s own resources, so I am searching for a donor’s stem cells to do the trick,” said Rawot.
Knowing how desperate her friend’s situation is, Zwilling has planned a bone marrow drive on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Jericho High School, located at 99 Cedar Swamp Road in Jericho.
Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 55. At the time of donation, all that is required of donors is a simple cheek swab. The tissue obtained through this cheek swab is then compared to the tissue of people, like Rawot, in need of a matched donor transplant.
Approximately 70 percent of the people who need stem cell or bone marrow transplants do not have a compatible donor in their family and must look in bone marrow registries for an unrelated donor. As more people are registered and the database grows, the chance that someone like Rawot will find a match increases significantly. The drive is being run by DKMS. Since their founding in 1991, DKMS has recruited over 2 million donors, making them the world’s largest bone marrow donor center.
Rawot is in need of a peripheral stem cell transplant. To obtain these cells, if you are a match, the donor gets hooked up as if you’re giving blood out of one arm, your blood passes through a machine that separates and keeps your stem cells, and your blood is given back to you through your other arm. Sometimes, though, people require the more traditional form of bone marrow transplant - this sometimes requires sedation, or local anesthesia, and the stem cells are removed from the bone marrow in your hip using a needle. The donor goes home the same day once the anesthesia has worn off. By putting yourself into the national registry, you are agreeing to donate your stem cells regardless of which procedure will be used knowing that you’ve saved a life.