Cancer patient gets life-saving transplant from unexpected hero - New York News

Cancer patient gets life-saving transplant from unexpected hero

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chances are you or someone you know has donated blood before, but have you ever thought of joining the bone marrow registry? One local man did and he recently got the call of a lifetime.

On Friday, a young man from Skokie prepped to save the life of a man he has never met. He will be a bone marrow donor for a patient dying of cancer and says their story will inspire you to think about doing the same.

Shalom Klein sees his doctor regularly for injections. The injections over four days are stimulating his stem cells so he can donate them to a complete stranger with acute myeloid leukemia--a form of blood cancer that without treatment could be fatal.

"What's a little bit of pain relative to somebody's life?" Klein says. "That's a very easy sacrifice for me to make. I'm excited about it."

This life-saving opportunity arose from a chance encounter a year and a half ago. The 25-year-old Skokie resident happened to see a bone marrow drive across the street from his office.

The chances of a being match are very slim and that's why donors are always needed.

In a few days, Shalom will undergo a three to five hour non-surgical procedure called peripheral blood stem cell donation or PBC at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

Dr. Leonard Klein, no relation to Shalom, is the head of the bone marrow transplant program.

"The pain is fairly minimal, it's very well tolerated and it's not long-standing," Dr. Klein explains. "Once the procedure is completed, the pain goes away completely."

Within a couple days of the harvest, the recipient of the stem cells will get a chance at a new life.

"Within 10 to 14 days, Scott's cells will be growing into this patient and if the patient makes it and survives the procedure, as long as that patient is alive, Scott's stem cells will be circulating in that patient's body forever," Dr. Klein continues.

Lauren Johnson of "Be the Match" national marrow donor program says last year less than half of the 14,000 people searching for a marrow donor were able to find one.

"Not enough people know about the registry and the need especially for minorities to join the registry because as a minority, they are highly underrepresented on the registry," Johnson tells FOX 32. "You're most likely going to match with your same ethnicity."

Shalom hopes his generosity will inspire others.

"I just think the more people need to be aware of easy step they can make," Shalom says.

Shalom Klein will get the chance to meet the 60-year-old recipient of his stem cells in one year if the patient agrees to it. Shalom says he is looking forward to meeting him one day.

There is still a need for minorities to join the registry. To learn more about joining the National Bone Marrow Registry, visit the "Be The Match" website.

To learn how to get involved locally with a bone marrow drive, contact Lauren Johnson with "Be the Match": 312-833-9699.

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