Thousands of people across the world are waiting for bone marrow transplants. But to receive one, a donor has to be a perfect match for the person in need. Thursday, a bone marrow drive was held at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro in hopes of finding a donor for a 14-year-old boy.
That 14-year-old is Seth Simonsen, son of United States Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen. Both Seth and his sister were diagnosed with a bone marrow immune disorder. Although a donor was found for his sister, Seth continues to wait.
Although Seth lives in Maryland, eastern Carolinians were eager to help out. Almost 200 people submitted their samples on base to see if they are a potential match for the teenager.
"I think it would be awesome. If I can do this for him. If I if one of my boys was in the same situation I would want somebody to help me," said Master Sgt. Benoit Wyble.
Analise Maldonado says she is doing it, because it is the right thing to do.
"I'm here for a reason. And if that is to help somebody get bone marrow, then so be it," said Maldonado.
The bone marrow drive was sparked by Seth's need, but the ramifications could be global. Since a match can be so rare to find, tests will be run to compare Thursday's donors to anyone else in need.
Eddie Abeina is the Senior Recruiter for the Department of Defense Bone Marrow Program. He says it is crucial to get as many people as possible into the database.
"And depending on your ethnic background, a donor could raise chances of a match to one in a hundred from one in a million," said Abeina.
Typically once a match has been made, a single bone marrow transfusion is all the patient needs to drastically change their lives.
A previous donor was also on base today to encourage new donors. Technical Sgt. Justin King entered the database in 2007. He got the call to help this past March.
"It was a little one-year-old girl, a little Swedish girl; thousands of miles away," said King.
Once King found out he was a match, he went through several additional tests to ensure the transfusion would be safe for him, and the girl. He says the procedure for giving bone marrow wasn't that painful at all.
"The donation process itself is more painful for the recipient then is is for the actual person who is donating the bone marrow," said King.
King says he would donate again in a heartbeat.
"Sometimes you stop and think about it, like, I've actually given someone a second change at life. It's amazing," said King.
Anyone interested can be added to the database as a future donor. Details on how to become one are listed here.