Dozens show up for Iowa bone marrow drive

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WEST BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - More than five dozen people showed up for a recent eastern Iowa bone marrow drive inspired by a leukemia patient in nearby Biggsville, Ill.

At least 70 people turned out Friday at Mercy Plaza in West Burlington to join Be The Match, the world’s largest bone marrow registry, the Burlington Hawk Eye reported (http://bit.ly/1eBV4tL ).

The registry matches unrelated donors to help save the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening diseases. The 25-year-old organization says a patient’s likelihood of finding a donor match through Be The Match ranges from 66 percent to 93 percent, depending on race and ethnicity.

Friday’s drive was inspired by Chad Gall, of Biggsville, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Gall’s brother stepped forward to become his donor.

“He needed a bone marrow transplant,” said Shannon Leffler, manager of the patient billing office at Great River Medical Center. “It got everyone thinking that it would be really nice to do a donor drive here and to try and get as many people in our area registered.”

In addition to having leukemia, Gall also has myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease in which bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells, resulting in abnormal cells in the blood and bone marrow.

Craig Murphy, a physical therapist at the Great River Wellness Plaza, was excited to see people signing up at the event. Nine years ago, Murphy gave bone marrow to someone in Missouri.

“I started with a process like this, and they put my name in the database, and I was a positive match for someone,” Murphy said.

Murphy still exchanges letters and phone calls with the woman who received his bone marrow, he said.

“She is doing well now,” Murphy said. “It all starts with getting in the registry, and once there is a potential match, they will do blood draws to get a more definitive match, and they go from there.”

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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