As a pharmaceutical representative, Justin Sappington serves hundreds of doctors in the Shoals. However, it was the diagnosis from one doctor that left Sappington scrambling for answers. In October, Sappington was diagnosed with Myeloid Dysplasia Syndrome. MDS is a blood cancer where the bone marrow cells do not mature into healthy blood cells. Sappington’s best hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Like 70 percent of all patients, Sappington does not have a matching donor in his family.
“When I found out I didn’t have a match in my family, I didn’t give up hope. I was familiar with the Be the Match organization and reached out to start holding bone marrow donor drives around north Alabama,” said Sappington.
Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital is partnering with the national organization, Be the Match, to host a bone marrow registry drive Tuesday, January 31st from 7:00 am-1:00 pm in the lobby.
To join the Be the Match registry, donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44, be in general good health and be willing to donate to any patient needing a bone marrow transplant. The non-invasive registration process through Be the Match consists of paperwork and a cheek swab on the day of the drive. Be the Match sends the swabs to a lab where the DNA donor type is identified and logged in a national registry. Hospitals can search the Be the Match registry.
“It’s amazing that people are willing to be a potential bone marrow donor to a complete stranger,” said Sappington. “These donors may not be a match with me, but if they match with someone else needing a donor, then that’s a win. It is my prayer that God is glorified by all of those willing to be donors and give others another chance at life. Thank you to ECM Hospital and the entire Shoals community.”
About Justin Sappington
Justin Sappington played football at UNA from 1995-1999.
He currently lives in Decatur with his two children and wife.
About Be the Match
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer
Be the Match facilitated nearly 6,400 transplants in 2015
A patient’s likelihood of having a matched, available donor on the Be the Match registry ranges from 66 percent to 97 percent
About 1 in every 430 U.S. Be the Match registry members go on to donate to a patient