The five-hour marrow drive, co-sponsored by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gets under way at noon in the Fellowship Hall.
Thousands of patients depend on the Be the Match registry, created by the National Marrow Donor Program, to find a donor for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases.
Valaria was born with sickle cell anemia, an inherited red blood cell disorder, and has undergone extensive treatments all her life. She is an only child and does not have a matching donor in her family.
Sickle cell disease affects people of many racial and ethnic groups. In the United States, one in 400 African-American newborns has the disease.
In sickle cell patients, the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.”
The sickle cells die early, causing a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.
Valaria’s best hope for a cure is a willing marrow donor whose HLA (human leukocyte antigen) tissue-type matches her own.
A cheek swab from prospective donors is all it takes to potentially match a patient.
The campaign also is raising funds. Every $100 raised helps add a member to the registry (www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/valaria).
Ousley United Methodist is at 3261 Panola Road. For more information, to join, give or volunteer, contact Rod Gunn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-330-1590.