On Friday, June 14, also celebrated as World Blood Donor Day, community members are invited to give blood through the American Red Cross or join the national bone marrow registry through Delete Blood Cancer DKMS in honor of David Sczesny, a 20-year-old cancer survivor who relied on the generosity of volunteer donors.
In 2008, Sczesny was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of bone marrow cancer, shortly after a failed attempt to donate blood at age 16. His only treatment option was a bone marrow transplant. Two months passed without finding a suitable donor, and Sczesny’s mother, Mary Ochowicz-Sczesny, was an option even though she was only considered to be a half-match. In preparation, Mary had her annual mammogram and, four days later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and could no longer donate her bone marrow to David .
A bone marrow match for David was finally found in a donor from Tampa, Fla., and he received his long-awaited, lifesaving transplant on Feb. 20, 2009. While less aggressive forms of David’s cancer returned, they were treated with chemotherapy. Today, he and his mother are in complete remission and encourage their neighbors to support other patients in need.
“After our family’s experience, we are more determined than ever as to inspire others to become regular blood donors and join the bone marrow registry,” Mary said. “These are two of the easiest ways to help save someone’s life. David and I are grateful to have the opportunity to tell our story and organize this lifesaving event.”
Upcoming blood donation and bone marrow registration opportunity:
Friday, June 14 from 1 to 6 p.m. at David’s Donors Blood Drive, Pettit National Ice Center at 500 S. 84th St., West Allis, Wis.
Last April, Mary received the 2013 Brave Hearts Community Safety, Security & Resiliency Award from the Southeastern Wisconsin Red Cross Chapter for her dedication to recruiting others to donate blood and join the bone marrow registry.
In 2013 alone, nearly 6 million people across America may need a blood transfusion. Blood donated through the Red Cross is available for patients in Wisconsin and across the country. Blood products are often used for cancer treatments as well as for bone marrow transplants. To help patients like David, it is important that these blood products are available at a moment’s notice. And, in honor of World Blood Donor Day, special Nexcare “give” themed bandages will be provided to Red Cross donors beginning June 10, while supplies last.
Delete Blood Cancer DKMS will provide the free cheek-swabbing and typing for the national bone marrow registry. With more than 3 million registered bone marrow donors worldwide, Delete Blood Cancer DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world. Visit deletebloodcancer.org to learn more.
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossBloodBH.