More than 100 potential bone marrow tissue donors joined the national bone marrow registry Friday at a drive held at Adena Regional Medical Center. The drive was coordinated by the family of Chillicothe-native Dr. Tracy Jalbuena, the eldest daughter of retired Adena Urologist Dr. Jun Jalbuena and his wife Kathy. Tracy is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow; and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.
“It was just a little idea that I had and shared with a few people here and there, and the next thing you know, we had a huge team assembled,” said Kathy. “I feel like it was a kernel of an idea, and all of our community and friends came in and put it all together for us – especially Adena.”
Many Adena caregivers turned out to have their cheeks swabbed, and to be entered into the national Be the Match database. Emergency Department Nurse Jessica Bethel said the choice for her was an easy one. “I donate blood and I’m an organ donor so why not give something if I can,” she said. “Someday it might be my kid that needs a transplant or my sister or my brother. It’s just something I can do to help, and it was very easy.”
Dr. Sarah Friedel also had no hesitation joining the registry. “I have had a long career in medicine, and I have had a number of friends with incurable diseases,” she said. “Anything I can do to help out, I’m ready willing and able to do so.” The sentiment was echoed by many others who made the choice to join the registry during the drive.
While 70 percent of those who receive a transplant find a donor through the Be the Match database, individual donors have just a 10-percent chance of being contacted once they join. And while Tracy’s match may not come from Adena’s drive, there’s a possibility that a person who joined Friday could be a life-saving match for someone who is currently waiting on the registry, or will be added to it in the future.
The Jalbuena’s are hopeful Tracy’s match will be found soon. They are also passionate about building the registry so that families will have peace of mind knowing there is someone available who can help their child. The Jalbuena’s hope to make a donor registry drive an annual event for our area; and they also hope to help Asian-Americans like Tracy to become better represented on the national bone marrow registry.
If you were unable to attend Friday’s donor registry drive and would like to join the Be the Match donor registry, you can go online to join and a swab kit will be sent to your home. Simply go to: http://join.bethematch.org/MarrrowMeTracy.