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Bone marrow donor drive today at St. Luke's Meridian

Event is meant to educate people on donating
Posted at 8:31 AM, Nov 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-16 13:25:31-05

St. Luke's Meridian is holding a special event today to help sign up people as bone marrow donors. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main lobby, you can learn about what it means to be a donor and even sign up. 

Only about 30 percent of patients who need a transplant have a perfect match in their family.  Most patients rely on the national registry called "Be the Match."

One person who knows all too well the importance of the national registry is Sierra Maxwell, owner of the Bella Blue Boutique in Nampa. 

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my donor," said Sierra Maxwell, bone marrow donation recipient.

Sierra's world was turned upside down last September when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

"And they told me in order to survive, I would need a bone marrow transplant," said Maxwell. 

Sierra assumed her family members would be a solution, but it's not that easy.  None were a good match.  So she turned to the national registry as she continued her search. 

"They couldn't really find a match so we had a lot of donor drives and I think we got about a thousand people signed up to be donors," said Maxwell. 

None of those people were matches either, but finally, months later, doctors found a match for Sierra in a complete stranger from around the world.  She received the transplant in January, just four months after she was diagnosed. 

"It's um, been difficult but I'm getting better all the time. My body has totally has accepted my donor's bone marrow, stem cells," said Maxwell. 

Sierra still doesn't know exactly where her donor is from and won't be able to find out for another year, but she has a message for anyone who is considering donating. 

"It just makes such good sense to save somebody's life, you know, to be a donor is pretty easy and to get on the registry it's just a cheek swab and then your DNA is in the national registry," said Maxwell. 

A simple swab that could save a life. 

You must be between the ages of 18 and 44 to be eligible to join the national registry.  At today's event at St. Luke's Meridian you can just learn about the process and how important it is, but you can also get your cheek swabbed to begin the process.

For more information on the national bone marrow registry click here, https://bethematch.org/