Facing surgery today, Talbot puts Games 2nd

January 11, 1994|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

"I never expected to win a medal," Olympic speed skater Kristen Talbot said last night at Johns Hopkins Hospital, on the eve of bone marrow transplant surgery aimed at saving a younger brother's life.

"The top 10 or top 15 would have been great," she said. "I'm still shooting for that."

Talbot's brother, Jason, 19, diagnosed in December as having a potentially fatal disease attacking his bone marrow, was receiving chemotherapy at Hopkins over the weekend while she was qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team to compete at the Winter Games in Norway next month.

The two-hour operation likely will delay the final weeks of training for the 23-year-old skater from Schuylerville, N.Y.

Her brother's rare disease slows the production of red and white blood cells, and the only long-term treatment known to be successful is a transplant requiring a match of marrow mostly likely found only among siblings.

Tests by doctors in New York State found a match for Jason with Kristen as well as two of their three younger brothers, Andrew, 3, and Matthew, 7.

Jason had been hoping that if a match was found, it would not be with Kristen because of the potential impact on her Olympic performance, said their mother, Michele Talbot, a nurse. "Kristen, on the other hand, was hoping it would be her. She didn't want her [younger] brothers to have to go through with the procedure."

In the surgery scheduled for 7:45 this morning, Dr. Richard F. Ambinder, an oncologist, will insert needles into the upper back portion of the skater's pelvic bone several hundred times to draw out a mixture of bone marrow that will be checked and cleaned before being given to Jason through a simpler transfusion procedure.

The skater expects to be leaving Hopkins tomorrow, but her brother likely will remain hospitalized for a month and remain under treatment and close observation for a year.

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