Potential bone marrow donors turn out for high school's drive

Teen's leukemia leads 156 people to be tested

May 07, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

More than 150 donors turned out for a bone marrow drive at South Carroll High School last week, and their names will be placed on a national register.

"We had so many that we had to turn a few away," said Karen Wright, a teacher who helped organize the drive. "People were running up here from nearby baseball fields to get tested."

The school planned the event to benefit Gregory Hladky, 16, a junior who has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

"Many of the donors didn't know Greg, but they wanted to build up the donor bank," said Wright. "The need for donors really hit home with us."

The Johns Hopkins Hemapheresis Center administered the tests to 156 potential donors.

"We took the names of those who were not tested and agreed to cover the cost of the tests for them," said Pam Boan, guidance counselor at the Taylorsville school.

Students have raised almost $10,000 to help with Hladky's medical expenses. The Carroll County Children's Fund contributed $5,000, which paid for 100 tests.

Hladky's doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital found a suitable donor about a month ago and were expected to do the transplant surgery yesterday.

The family asked the school to continue the drive for the many patients who have not found donors, particularly minority children.

"Our whole purpose is to raise awareness, not just get our son a donor," said George Hladky, Greg's father.

Because donors must be at least age 18, most of Hladky's schoolmates did not qualify.

"Many asked if a permission note from parents would let them donate," said Boan.

Rejection did not deter student enthusiasm, Boan said. Dressed in "Be a Life-Saver" T-shirts, students helped coordinate the drive, serving as guides, manning the refreshment tables and decorating the gym.

Largely because of the project, the school is a finalist for a national school spirit award.

"Our school spirit has just shot through the roof," said Boan. "Everyone is working together, and we have gotten a lot of help from the community."

St. Stephen's Reformed Episcopal Church, where Hladky is a member, has also joined the effort, raising almost $7,000 for the family.

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