Minister Needs Marrow

October 10, 1990

A combination blood drive and search for a person who could donate bone marrow to the Rev. Bert Benz of Hampstead will be Oct. 15 at Martin's Westminster.

People interested in donating blood that day should make an appointment, although walk-ins can be accommodated, said Anne Fiocco, account manager for donor resources for the American Red Cross, Northwestern District.

The drive will be like any other Bloodmobile visit, except that donors can also agree to have their donated blood tested for a marrow match to Benz.

Benz, 47, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, learned during a routine physical earlier this year that he has leukemia. Although he is not sick yet with the disease, doctors have told him he will live only another three to five years without a transplant.

Bone marrow is a liquid which can be taken from the donor's hip through a large syringe, requiring general anesthesia and a one-night hospital stay.

The donated marrow would then be injected into Benz's bloodstream and find its way to his own bone marrow.

Even if a donor doesn't match Benz, she said, the person's type will be added to the National Bone Marrow Registry.

"We tell people they may not match Bert, but they might match someone else across the country," Fiocco said.

Fiocco said 140 people so far have signed up to donate, and she would like another 130.

"The test costs $75 for each sample. So this is our way of not having to make Bert pay for it. Also, the blood is going to help people," Fiocco said.

The chance of a person finding a non-relative who matches their bone marrow is 1 in 20,000,Fiocco said.Benz said his family has already been tested and there is no match.

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