BREWER, Maine — One day last fall, Tripp Murray’s mom noticed that her 2-year-old was walking a little bit differently. By the next day, his eyes were behaving strangely. Within hours, doctors discovered a brain tumor pushing against his cranium. Like many cancer survivors, Tripp underwent a lifesaving bone marrow transplant during the course of his treatment. On Saturday, Aug. 16, community members can give hope to children like Tripp by getting swabbed and joining the bone marrow registry at the Eastern Maine Medical Center Champion the Cure Challenge.
“Our theme this year is ‘swab party,’ which fits our bone marrow drive very well,” says Brenda Clements, RN, MSB, OCN, manager of nursing services at EMMC Cancer Care. “Our team has a lot of energy and creates a fun environment for anyone who wants to join the registry. Our message is simple: it’s quick, free, and painless to join, and you will feel great about participating.”
According to Clements, adults between the ages of 18 and 55 are eligible. A quick swab of the cheek is all that is required – there is no need to draw blood. The entire process usually takes about five minutes.
“After getting swabbed, you will be added to the national registry,” she adds. “Only four out of every 10 people who need a transplant receive one, so it’s important to increase the size of the registry as much as possible. It’s rare for an individual who joins the registry to become a match, but by joining, you can help improve the odds, and possibly save a life.”
In Tripp’s case, bone marrow was removed from his body prior to receiving treatment. The marrow was frozen and then put back into his body in March after treatment. Tripp was fortunate in that his own bone marrow could be used, but many adults and children don’t have the same luck and may not survive without a donor.
“Tripp has had quite a journey,” says Tripp’s mom, Kim. “I know there are so many other children out there going through the same thing. They are so young and fighting for their lives. Finding a match on the registry can mean the difference between life and death.”
This year’s drive takes place from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer during the Champion the Cure Challenge. To get swabbed, simply stop by at the event. For more information, call Brenda Clements at 973-8810.