Kevin Scoggins has been relentless in his drive to battle non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphoma disease.
He has undergone more than 60 IV chemo treatments, six months of oral chemotherapy and one clinical trial while clocking thousands of miles on his road and mountain bikes.
His perseverance has been tested, and for the next leg of the journey he is reaching out to local residents for their help.
Scoggins was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
“As I was sitting in the doctor’s office that Friday, and he was telling me [the news], I couldn’t [tell myself] the words I generally would say to someone who would get that information,” Scoggins said. “It took me a couple of days to back away and act the way I would normally.”
Now Scoggins, his family and friends are asking the public to show up for a marrow donor drive Friday night from 6 to 9 at Bradley Square Mall. The drive will be held in Belk Rooms 907 and 100.
Tammy Leatherwood, Scoggins’ sister, said the process is simple.
“You take a long Q-tip and the girls from Blood Assurance instruct you on what area of your mouth to swab,” Leatherwood said. “You then put [the Q-tip] in these little plastic envelopes and they place it with your paperwork.”
Rhonda Moore from Blood Assurance said the whole process takes about five minutes.
The Marrow Donor Registry Drive will expand beyond Scoggins to potentially help anyone with diseases like leukemia, lymphoma or sickle cell anemia. Volunteers who show up to get swabbed will be entered into an international match registry. This means a match could be found at any time, in any country for a number of diseases.
Moore explained it simply means someone’s life might be saved.
She said there is a lot of hesitance from the general public when it comes to donating marrow.
“They think it is painful to donate marrow, when it is actually similar to a blood donation,” Moore said. “They think it is coming out of their bones, but it is just like a blood donation.”
The only exception is if the recipient is an infant to a 12-year-old. These cases require marrow directly from the hip. She said donations for young patients require 1 to 5 percent of the marrow in a hip. The marrow will return back to normal levels in four to six weeks.
“To be a marrow donor, that person could be the cure for patients who otherwise would not have a cure and die,” Moore said. “My son-in-law was a match for a lady who had leukemia. She gave him a diary [cataloguing] how appreciative she was for his donation and her church family sent letters.”
Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44. They must also meet the health guidelines and, “Be willing to donate to any patient in need.”
Conditions which would prevent a person from donating include:
- HIV or risk for HIV;
- Hepatitis or risk for hepatitis;
- Chronic lung disease;
- Diabetes requiring insulin or diabetes-related health issues;
- Diseases that affect blood clotting or bleeding;
- Recent back surgery, or severe or ongoing back problems;
- Autoimmune/neurological disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis;
- Being an organ or marrow transplant recipient;
- Significant obesity; and
- Current sleep apnea.
Information pertinent to the paperwork includes a form of personal identification (a driver’s license or passport) and contact information for two family members or friends to reach in the event the donor’s personal information changes.
According to statistics presented by the National Marrow Donor Program, more than 12,000 Americans are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Approximately 70 percent of the patients in need do not have a matching donor in their family. These individuals turn to the Be The Match Registry for a cure.
Leatherwood encouraged everyone who qualifies to come out for the event Friday night.
“Not just for [Kevin], but for someone else who might need it. This stuff has hit way too close to home recently,” Leatherwood said. “I feel hopeless. I feel like there is nothing I can do, so I devote myself to things like the bone marrow drive.”
She said those who are older than 44 can still give blood at Blood Assurance, like the one on Keith Street. Donors can give either Kevin Scoggins’ name or his account number, 649590. The blood donated will count as credit on his account.