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Son hosts bone marrow donor registry drive for father - KOAM TV 7

Son hosts bone marrow donor registry drive for father

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PARSONS, KANSAS -

Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to Be The Match, a non-profit community of donors and researchers.

Seven months ago, that was Parsons man Mark Harper being diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare cancer of the blood that only 5,000 people get diagnosed with each year.

"Of course it's my dad so I'm going to do anything I can to help find that match for him," Mark's son Ross Harper said.

Ross, along with other family and friends organized a week-long drive at his place of employment: Parsons' Bowen Pharmacy. Ross and his four siblings are only a 50 percent match for their father, as 50 percent of their DNA is from him and 50 percent from their mother. If doctors were to go through with a 50 percent match, Mark Harper's body would likely reject it.

"They kill all of my bone marrow with radiation and chemo, then they start over. It basically cures you, it's the only cure there is for it," Mark Harper said, "they use bone marrow for leukemia, lymphoma, I have myelofibrosis which is a little different in that it has to be an almost perfect match."

The donor registry takes all of 10 minutes and includes four swabs to the mouth, which are they sent off to see what level of a match it is for Harper or otherwise.

"So it's not just for me, it's for whoever needs it," Mark said.

The Harpers explained that they have learned that Caucasian females are the biggest source of donors and that other ethnicities are needed. Since Mark is a Caucasian male, his donor will have to be a Caucasian male. 

"Most people are organ donors on their drivers license. This is something you actually have to come in and do," Mark said.

Be The Match targets people ages 18 to 44 for donors, but all are invited to get tested. The drive continues into Friday, but can also be accessed on join.bethematch.org/mharper for free of charge.

Seventy percent of patients needing a marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family.

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