Mt. Vernon Register-News

Local

May 17, 2010

Volunteers turn out for bone marrow drive

MT. VERNON — Though a bone marrow match has been found for 4-year-old Hunter Kalahar, a local boy diagnosed with leukemia, a bone marrow match drive still went on Saturday at Times Square Mall.

Employees of FedEx, where Hunter’s father John Kalahar works, and representatives from the National Marrow Donor Registry hosted a match drive to help others like Hunter find their matches.

“Before they found a match for Hunter, our goal was to find a match for him,” said Rachael Krueger, one of the organizers of the event. “While we were in the middle of setting it up, they found his match. We changed our name from Hunter’s Hope to Team Hunter after he found his match.”

Krueger said the organizers’ goal was to get as many people signed up to the registry as possible.

Volunteers spent about 15 minutes filling out forms and getting four mouth swabs to match against people in need of a bone marrow transplant, said Melissa Halcomb, director of the marrow program at Community Blood Services of Illinois.

The National Marrow Donor Registry uses the mouth swabs to match types of human leukocyte antigens in patients and potential donors, she said.

Ashley Davidson, assistant director of the marrow program at Community Blood Services of Illinois, said there are currently about eight million potential donors listed in the registry, and at any one time, six thousand people searching for a match.

Kalahar was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in January.

“It’s still about four to five weeks before he gets a transplant,” said John Kalahar. “He’s got quite a bit more chemo to go through, and radiation too.”

John said Hunter is holding up well in the face of the leukemia treatments.

“You can’t even tell he’s sick,” he said. “He’s just like a normal boy.”

FedEx donated a variety of items to be raffled off at the event, including golf club covers, Nike golf balls, a Callaway watch, a model FedEx NASCAR stock car, a first aid kit, and a Denny Hamlin polo shirt and uniform jacket. The proceeds of the raffle went toward the National Marrow Donor Registry.

For people who can’t or prefer not to add their names to the donor registry, Halcomb encouraged people to make a donation to bethematch.org. Those interested can also continue to help Hunter by making a donation to his fund at Integra Bank in Mt. Vernon.

John Kalahar said he was glad the donor drive continued to move forward even though Hunter’s donor was found.

“No kid needs to go through this stuff,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s someone from Japan or whereever else, no one needs to go through this.”

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