Little Boy's Spirit Lives On Through Marrow Match

Tue, 03/22/2016 - 22:58
Jackie supporting her friend Susie as she donates marrow

When two extraordinary women visited the Rhode Island Blood Center, (RIBC) their smiling faces did not belie the past sorrows they’d shared in their friendship. Susie was at our Rhode Island Blood Center Providence site giving her stem cells for a bone marrow transplant that will give a perfect stranger a second chance at life, even possibly a cure. Jackie was there to lend support to her friend, keeping her company during the process. Together, they were both honoring the memory of Kyle Markes, Jackie's son, who lost his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Christmas Eve 2013.

“I registered on the National Bone Marrow Donor registry many years ago while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard,” said Susie. “After all this time, I never thought I would be someone’s match.” When she got the call, Jackie was the first person Susie wanted to tell.

Because of Kyle and to be sure his memory and spirit carry on, both women have become advocates for increasing the number of donors on the national registry. Kyle did eventually find a marrow match of his own, but by then, the advanced stage of his illness overcame him before the transplant could be received.

"Susie’s going to help save another woman's life today," said Jackie. "Someone's mother, daughter, sister, aunt."

Susie donated her stem cells for the bone marrow transplant through an automated blood donation process called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation. Oftentimes, what keeps people from registering to be marrow donors are lingering misconceptions about painful procedures from long ago. Seventy five percent of donors are able to give their life-saving stem cells through PBSC. It takes about 6 hours, is done right at RIBC, and does not require any anesthesia or pain medications. Only about 25 percent of the time is marrow retrieved under anesthesia via a surgical procedure that is very safe and now done on an outpatient basis.

There are many ways Kyle's memory lives on -- in a park dedicated in his name, in the number of people
inspired by him to register as marrow donors, and in the way he still encourages people to give of themselves to save other's lives.

Join the National Marrow Registry through the Rhode Island Blood Center. Donors must be 18 to 44
years old. All it takes is a simple cheek swab! We have been helping patients find their match since 1991 and have facilitated over 600 actual marrow donations as of May 2015.