COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary people through donation. For many patients, their only hope is a bone marrow transplant.
Kathryn Poe, 21 is recent transplant recipient going back to college at Capital University where she's a junior. Poe has had chronic health problems since she was 15. A donor was found in March and she received a transplant in July.
Poe said she had already accepted that she probably wasn’t going to live a very long life because of her disease.
“I truly believe that in life we kind of get dealt a set of cards and it's how you play your cards that matters,” she said.
Poe said she and her boyfriend have started an Instagram account to document and share her journey, and possibly encourage others to donate. Poe wants to meet the 30-year old man who donated her marrow.
"This is a thing you kind of struggle with a lot. How do you thank someone that saved your life? How do you put into words everything that happened?” she said. “A lot of people want to change the world. They think big —like poverty of social justice issues. The reality is you only really have to save one person. You only have to make a positive impact on the life of one individual and you have saved the entire world for them."
Thousands of people are diagnosed each year with life-threatening blood cancers. Sean Patterson of Blacklick said he signed up to be a donor after a work colleague needed a transplant. While he was not a match for her, he was matched with an eight-year-old girl. As the father of a child the same age, Patterson was moved by the opportunity and had the procedure done at The James Cancer Hospital.
“I am like, how do you not do this having kids because if it was my son, I'd want somebody to do it,” Patterson said.
Patterson said cells from younger donors lead to better long-term survival for patients. So doctors request people in the 18 to 44 year-old age group.
“The minor discomfort we may have going through the procedure of donating marrow or stem cells is worth it compared to what recipients have to go through day in and day out." he said.“I am just an everyday guy with an 11-year-old kid wanting to make a difference in the community. I am hoping today is one of those things where we sign up thousands of donors, potential donors to help other people. It’s truly about helping others and not so much focusing on us. It's an opportunity to really make a difference and carry on Chris’ legacy.”