5 Blood Disorder Survivors Find a Cure in Donation
Advocacy Below are the stories of patients who, though battling different forms of blood cancer and blood disorders, found a common cure: a bone marrow or stem cell donation.
Jimmy Martinez — Multiple Myeloma
A proud grandfather and 25-year FDNY veteran, Jimmy Martinez was one of the courageous first responders on the front lines during both 9/11 and Super Storm Sandy. In June 2013 he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Jimmy underwent intense chemotherapy while searching for a bone marrow donor. In 2015, Jimmy’s prayers were answered; he found his life-saving match. He received the transplant he was patiently waiting for and was able to return to a normal life.
Owen Hogan — Aplastic Anemia
When Owen Hogan began developing bruises his parents, Tim and Kathleen, were not immediately concerned. Then their doctor delivered a diagnosis that turned the family’s lives upside down: their energetic toddler had severe aplastic anemia, a debilitating blood disorder. Owen needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. After a series of donor registration drives, a matching donor was discovered for Owen, who is back to being a kid. The Hogan family has since motivated more than 2,000 people to join the registry, leading to nearly 20 other patient-donor matches.
Amanda Schamper — Leukemia
Amanda Schamper was seven weeks pregnant with her third child when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Though doctors discovered the disease early, Amanda could not begin treatment because of the high risk of birth defects. Instead, she gave herself daily injectable chemotherapy and began taking oral medication in her second trimester. Amanda delivered a healthy baby boy, but needed a bone marrow transplant four months later. Fortunately, Amanda quickly matched with a donor and underwent a successful bone marrow transplant. Today, Amanda is a happy and healthy mom.
Tiffany Glasgow — Sickle Cell Anemia
For the first 12 years of her life, Tiffany Glasgow suffered from sickle cell anemia and the constant physical pain brought on by the disease. By 2011, she was spending up to two weeks a month in the hospital. A bone marrow transplant was her only hope for a better life. She searched for a matching donor for two years before receiving her lifesaving transplant in October 2013. Since the transplant, Tiffany and her family have hosted drives and events to raise awareness and inspire more people of color to join the bone marrow registry.
Mandy Manocchio — Leukemia
Everything was going great for Mandy Manacchio, a Manhattan fashion executive and busy mother of two. Then she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Only 7 percent of registered potential donors are of Asian ancestry, making it harder for Mandy, who is Korean, to find a bone marrow donor. She worked to raise awareness of the need for donor and in October 2013 received the best birthday present ever. She received a transplant and was home from the hospital in time to spend Christmas with her family.
Jimmy, Owen, Amanda, Manny, and Tiffany are from different backgrounds, and suffered different blood diseases, but they all had one thing in common: their lives were saved by donors who stepped up to the plate to make a difference.
Every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer and for many patients, a bone marrow transplant is their only chance for survival. While 30 percent find a matching donor in their families, 70 percent of patients — that’s nearly 14,000 a year — must rely on a benevolent stranger to donate. Here is another startling statistic: 6 out of 10 patients are unable to find a compatible donor. The odds are even lower for people of color since minority donors, across all ethnic groups, are vastly underrepresented on the registry.
There are many organizations dedicated to the mission of increasing awareness for the cause and encouraging individuals to register as potential donors. With over 27 million people registered worldwide there is a growing movement to change the odds for patients facing blood cancers and disorders.
Joining the registry not only gives hope to the thousands of patients in need, but you could also be the lucky person to save a life! Whether it’s a patient with leukemia, multiple myeloma, sickle cell anemia or aplastic anemia, you can be the cure they need.