Hackensack Fire Department
Hosts Bone Marrow Drives
for Firefighter’s Two-Year-Old Son
The Hackensack Fire Department (HFD) registered 55 potential life-giving bone marrow stem cell donors at the four registration drives held at its headquarters the week of November 18.
“Kudos to all who turned out at the last minute to try and make a difference in the life of Owen Hogan, and other patients like Owen, who need lifesaving transplants,” said Patrice Foresman of Community Blood Services. Patrice coordinated the drives with the firefighters.
Two-year-old Owen Hogan of Long Island, the son of a New York City firefighter, desperately needs to find a bone marrow match to cure his aplastic anemia. When Hackensack Fire Chief Tom Freeman heard about little Owen’s plight, the chief made it the mission of his fire department to help find Owen’s perfect match.
“This is when you know you have to step up. When a young life is at stake, we all have to do our part.” said Chief Freeman, noting the HFD is proud to be a sponsor for Owen and his family.
Owen’s rare bone marrow disease causes his body to be unable to produce red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets, making it impossible for Owen to fight infection. Owen has had many blood and platelet transfusions, along with immunosuppressive therapy, but is no longer responding to those therapies. His best chance now is a bone marrow transplant, with a perfectly matched donor giving him a 90 percent chance of beating the disease.
Other fire departments, North Hudson County and Bloomfield are also in the process of setting up drives to help Owen. If you are interested in setting up a drive, you can call Patrice Foresman at The HLA Registry, 201-274-5381.
You can also click here through December 31 to register online at a virtual drive for Owen at bethematch.org. Use promo code OWEN2013. If you can’t register but wish to help in another way, you can help fund the family’s efforts by sending in a contribution to help defer the cost of adding new members to the registry. A check can be made out to the Be The Match registry to The HLA Registry, 102 Chestnut Ridge Road, Montvale, NJ 07645. Every $100 raised helps add a member to the registry.
Registration is painless and easy. For anyone age 18-44 it will take about 10 minutes to join the Be The Match Registry through a simple cheek swab and filling out a short health form. Donors with diverse or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed for the bone marrow registry as patients in need of transplants are most likely to match someone who shares their same race or ethnicity.
For thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma, a marrow stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor is their best or only hope for a cure. These patients depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match – and a second chance at life. Like Owen, 70 percent of those patients will not find matches within their own families and must turn to the national registry to find a donor match. More donors are needed to help increase the likelihood that all patients will find a match.
ABOUT THE HLA REGISTRY
The HLA Registry (HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens, the genetic information encoded on white blood cells) at Community Blood Services is dedicated to finding compatible unrelated donors for lifesaving bone marrow transplants. A member of the NMDP based in Montvale (NJ), it is the largest non-governmental donor center in the U.S. and has registered more than 230,000 potential donors in the NMDP’s data base.