A simple cheek swab by a specific unknown person might just give a Clinton woman her best Christmas ever if it turns out to be from a person who provides the perfect match to cure her leukemia.
In September of 2020, Jennifer Wyatt, then 35 and married nine years to her husband, Brian Wyatt, was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, a rare and incurable form of blood cancer which is usually found in older men.
There are about 1,100 cases a year of CMML, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s website, and she and her hus- band are hoping and praying that a donor match will come about before the cancer metastasizes to other organs.
Anyone 18 to 40 can register on the blood donor website, my.bethematch.org, which sends a free cheek swab kit, and about one in 430 of those who register show up as donor matches.
While close relatives can sometimes provide a good match, matches can come from strangers in other locations. Registrants can join “Jenn’s Tribe” through a text or by scanning a QRC code and register directly for Wyatt’s database.
“I might get a match from California or from right here,” Wyatt said. “Blood type is not the main factor. My sister has registered and about 60 others have heard about it and registered, so we are trying to get as many as possible to register. It might not help me, but it might help someone else and that’s what’s so good about the database.”
Unlike past decades when painful spinal taps were required to donate bone marrow, the typical procedure now simply removes some stem cells from the blood through a process just slightly more complex than a blood donation. And my.bethematch.org covers the costs from mailing in the cheek swab to the donation.
For Wyatt, however, it’s been 14 months since her diagnosis and it’s a waiting game to see if a donor will come through. That is her only chance at remission.
“I’ve been on chemo infusions to slow the progress and getting regular blood transfusions, but the only actual cure is from a bone marrow transplant,” Wyatt said. “It is hard to work with a hemoglobin under 7 and still do all your daily tasks but I’m still working as much as I can while I can.”
Wyatt works in the office at Hometown Pediatrics and her boss has allowed her to adjust her schedule for the weeks she’s on daily chemo and blood infusions inGreenville. On Dec. 27 she’ll have another consultation with a bone marrow physician.
“He will download my data and see if there are any matches, so the more donors in the database the better,” Wyatt said.
For more information go to my.bethematch.org, or join “JennsTribe29325” by texting 61474.
First published Page 1 on the Wednesday, Dec. 8 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.