Westfield resident Norward Harris is celebrating his recovery from leukemia treatment and a bone marrow stem cell transplant by organzing a virtual donor drive with the help of his wife, Linda.
Those ages 18-44 who meet the eligibility guidelines can register online at Be The Match and enter Harris' promo code: BeTheOne4Hope during the drive, which runs through Oct. 31. The survivor said this is a convenient way for potential donors to take the first step toward giving patients a second chance in the fight against blood cancers.
Harris shared how his diagnosis came about and how finding a donor ultimately saved his life.
“I had just retired from 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry as an Executive Specialty Sales Representative, looking forward to traveling and consulting when a persistent cough and fatigue prompted a visit to the doctor," he explained. "I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) a rare blood disease which transformed quickly into Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
"I was athletic, had no known risk factors, no previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy, no known over-exposure to toxic chemicals, pesticides or radiation, no family history of blood disease – unfortunately it just happened. The only chance for survival was a bone marrow transplant and fortunately a donor match was available from the Be The Match Donor Registry.”
Harris and his wife are not only committed to raising awareness of blood cancers but also want to recognize all the organizations that helped him win his battle: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society NJ Chapter in Cranford, Gilda’s Club of Northern New Jersey, Community Blood Services-Affiliate of Be The Match and the John Theurer Cancer Center Hackensack University Medical Center, where he underwent a stem cell transplant.
The organizations and the Harrises have collaborated to present 'Making The Match: The Value of Being a Donor,' an evening of education, empowerment and enjoyment to be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Gilda’s Club Northern NJ, located at 575 Main Street, Hackensack.
The featured speaker will be Dr. Michele L. Donato, medical director, Blood and Marrow Collection Facility, John Theurer Cancer Center, Hackensack University Medical Center. To learn more and register for this free event contact Gilda’s Club at 201-457-1670.