Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blood Brother

“Blood Brother”
By Leigh Rutledge Bratina

Richard Stout was living the American dream. He is a 40 year old man, married and has a daughter and son, ages 6 and 10. But for Stout his dream has become a nightmare. Stout is at a crossroads in his life, and time is of the essence. Stout has myelogenous (myeloid) leukemia. This form of leukemia is a rare form most often seen in childhood, and rarely survived in adulthood. Stout needs to find a bone marrow tissue match to save his life.
A few years ago, Stout sponsored a blood drive for potential matches and paid out of pocket. No donors proved to be matches. Stout feels his days are numbered and fears that he will not be around to watch his children grow up. He desperately needs a marrow match. He is currently at the Anderson Clinic in Houston Texas undergoing very aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Doctors are also using an experimental drug that has not been approved by the FDA. Doctors are hoping that the drug will allow Stout to show some improvement; however, the drug has only been tested on eight people, and thus far has shown not to be successful in those that have tried it. Doctors are expecting Stout to go into remission after his dose of chemotherapy. During this time, finding a bone marrow match is critical.
Don Stout is Richard Stout’s father. He is doing what he can to give his son a chance at recovery. Don Stout’s company, The Gas House is sponsoring a blood drive on January 24 in Fort Payne, Alabama for his son, Richard. At the blood drive a small blood sample will be taken, which is tested to determine the tissue type. Those who donate can be registered to have their blood type listed on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry.
The tissue type will then be compared to the tissue types of thousands of patients around the world who are searching for a matching donor. The person donating will be given information about the marrow and peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation processes. Potential donors will also be asked to complete a brief health questionnaire and sign a form consenting to have their tissue type listed on the Registry until their 61st birthday, unless they specifically ask to be removed. If one is identified as a potential match for a patient, medical costs are covered by the patient or the patient's medical insurance, as are all travel expenses and other non-medical costs.
When a person joins the NMDP, they are asked to bring with them an address and phone numbers of two alternate contacts who do not reside with the donor as well as a social security number or driver's license. It is recommended that to discuss the donation decision with family or others close to you before you join. It may be important to have their support if you are ever contacted as a match for a patient who needs a transplant. As a volunteer, you are never under any legal obligation to donate. Individual decisions are always respected. However, because a late decision not to donate can be life-threatening to a patient, it is recommended that you think seriously about your commitment before deciding to join the Registry. Identity and donor records confidential. The NMDP has strict standards to ensure that donor privacy and confidentiality are protected.
Randy Young of Helena, Alabama had a recent experience on the other side of the fence as a donor. A co worker of the company he worked for was in need of a tissue match because she had leukemia. The company sponsored a blood typing drive to help find a potential match. Young participated in the drive by having blood drawn to be tested for a possible match. At the time, he was asked if he would like to be put on the national register of donors so that his type would be available to worldwide patients in need. Young readily agreed. His blood type was not a match to his coworker that was in need, but it did match an individual on the registry that needed a donor. The National Registry soon contacted Young and asked him if he was still interested in donating and sent paperwork to be completed. Young then went into his doctor for a more intensive blood study. With the process of paperwork done, Young was on his way to New Orleans, Louisiana to have his marrow extracted from his hip bone and put into the ill patient. Young was told that if the patient wanted to, he could be contacted by person he gave to. Contact is strictly at the patients desire to meet their donor. If the donor would like to remain anonymous one can make that request. In Young’s case he was told that a year must pass before contact of any kind could be made. Young’s donor did write to him after a year and told Young that his health was doing better. Young is very happy that he may have helped save another person’s life, “if you have the ability to save another person’s life you should”.

Richard Stout hopes that he too can be saved by donation. He is in desperate need of finding a donor while he is still healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure. Stout’s greatest fear is that he will die while he is in Houston for testing. He feared he would not see his children again, for this reason, the children have been temporarily been taken out of school and have gone to Houston to be close to their father. The family would like to ask the public to come out and donate at the blood drive. There is no charge for the testing.
The Gas House is sponsoring the event on January 24 from 7:30 AM until 2:30 PM. The Gas House is located at 108 Third Street North East, Fort Payne. For more information on Stout’s drive, you may contact Tammy from Blood Assurance at (256)599-36376. If anyone is unable to donate, the family asks for prayer for the Stout family.
If you would like to be a tissue donor with the National Marrow Donor Program, contact the Donor Advocacy Program at (800) 627-7692 (1-800-MARROW-2) or send an e-mail to advocate@nmdp.org. For information on the National Bone Marrow Program the web site address is http://www.marrow.org/

Follow up: Sadly, Richard Stout lost his battle with leukemia, but there are others who still need help. Please consider the donation program.

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