In the blink of an eye, life can change.
That’s exactly what happened for 4-month-old Jackson Tucker and his parents, Reginald and Heather. Jackson has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that has not been completely identified and is in need of a bone marrow transplant to cure him.
Family and members of the community are coming together and hosting a donor registry drive June 4, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event is being sponsored by Donnie Lamm from Nissan of Clinton.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be doing this,” Lamm said.
Because of Jackson’s diagnosis, he needs a matched marrow donor to receive a transplant. From the beginning, Jackson has been a miracle baby, his mother shares. Just a few weeks after his birth, Jackson became sick and his parents took him to the emergency department at the local hospital. Because of his blood count, Jackson was sent to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where he was later diagnosed with leukemia.
“When I got the phone call that Jackson had leukemia cells, my world stopped,” Heather said as she fought back tears. “Being able to have him home every day while he is doing his treatments is a blessing.”
Jackson takes a low dose of chemotherapy daily with oral medication. This, Heather said, allows his white blood cell count to stay at a good level.
According to Heather, it is important for everyone to come out to the donor registry drive. Because Jackson is biracial, someone who is also biracial or of another ethnicity is more likely to be his match.
“It’s important for everyone to come and be checked for a match,” Heather said. “And, if they don’t match Jackson, they could be a match for someone else and help save their life.”
All donations are entered into a national database through Be The Match Registry, which is the leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening disease.
Guidelines for joining the registry are simple. Those wishing to be checked as a match just need to show up at Nissan Saturday, June 4, and have their cheek swabbed. Those interested in joining the registry must be between 18-44 years old, or they will have a fee for being checked. There are a few simple health questions.
The entire process, Heather shared, will take about 10 minutes.
“Please show your grace and mercy on what this one day can provide for so many people,” Heather said. “Just 10 minutes can help save a life.”
The registry has over 14 million volunteer donors with over 10 million of those giving to people living in the United States. Of those who need a transplant, 70 percent cannot find a match in their family. For Jackson, his brother Mason was the most likely match, but Heather said he didn’t match.
“I am just overwhelmed by the generosity of the community, our church, family and friends,” Heather said. “We believe in the power of prayer and that’s what everyone has done. They have come together in prayer.”
For Jackson, a bone marrow transplant is the only cure. The match has to be a perfect one for Jackson, and that’s why Heather wants as many people as possible to be checked.
“This is important for more than just Jackson,” Heather said. “Maybe you won’t be a match for him, but you may match someone else and you could save their life. This small gesture can save so many lives.”
Nissan will host the event, providing the facility for the registry drive, in addition to offering concessions.
“I have kids and grandkids,” Lamm said. “I would want people to be willing to do the same for me and my family. You never know who this is going to affect and how your generosity can help save a life.”
The Sampson County Relay for Life event will be held June 3, the Friday night before the drive. There will be people out swabbing those who meet the guidelines in addition to Saturday’s drive.
For more information, visit www.bethematch4jackson.com or Facebook #TeamJackson.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.