A Central Texas Teen Is Looking For A Bone Marrow Match For Herself And Others
For many college students, daily life includes worrying about tests, paying for overpriced books and surviving cafeteria food. But for 18-year-old Jalyn White, there is an added level of responsibility and worry that goes along with college life.
Jalyn has aplastic anemia, which is a disorder in which bone marrow fails to make enough blood cells.
“Now she has to make sure she’s eating right, taking her medicines and being aware of her body and when she needs to rest,” said Jalyn’s father, George “Junior” White. “She has to be wise beyond her years.”
The Blynn College student has made the best of her years dealing with her disease, even running track in high school.
Finding Her Perfect Match
But now, Jalyn is back in the hospital. The only cure for the college freshman is to find a bone marrow donor that is her perfect match.
“In 2002, they tested my wife and me,” Mr. White said. “When we weren’t a match, we went to plan B, which was the immunotherapy. We thought she was going to be okay for the rest of her life, but now we’re back at square one.”
When the White family decided they wanted to host some drives to get people to become a part of the Be the Match® Registry, which helps match donors to patients all around the world, they turned to Scott & White for help.
“We are one of 15 donor centers in the U.S.,” said manager of the Scott & White Marrow Donor Program, Debbie Mabry. “We cover a 15 country area in Central Texas, including the Brazos Valley. When we have patients in the Brazos Valley, like Jalyn, then we are the ones that they can contact to do the drive.”
And it’s absolutely painless to register, Ms. Mabry said.
Be The Match
“At the drive there’s a registration form that [donors] have to fill out and answer a few health questions,” she said. “And then we just swab the inside of their cheek to get the cells we need. And that’s what we use to put them on the registry.”
If the donor is found to be a match, they will undergo follow-up blood testing, and then the actual removal of bone marrow.
“It’s not like what you see in movies and on TV,” Ms. Mabry said. “The marrow is removed under anesthesia. It’s very similar to giving platelets.”
Even though there might be some minor discomfort, Ms. Mabry said that the donor can be the one to save someone’s life.
“Without a donor, many of these patients just won’t have a chance,” she said.
Jalyn is one of these patients, but the White family isn’t only focusing on her struggle.
“It’s not just about saving Jalyn’s life. It’s about helping other people out there like her…”
“It’s not just about saving Jalyn’s life,” Mr. White said. “It’s about helping other people out there like her and getting people involved in the registering process.”
Finding Her Purpose
Because of their enormous faith, the Whites feel like Jalyn is dealing with this disorder for a reason.
“We truly believe that God would never give us anything that we couldn’t bear,” Mr. White said. “He’s using her to be a voice for this type of disease.”
The father of three wants Jalyn to think of her struggles with aplastic anemia not as a curse, but as an opportunity to help others.
“As a parent, I would like her to find her cause—figure out what her purpose is,” he said. “If she has the passion and drive to achieve it, then she can conquer anything.”
To join the registry, a volunteer must be between the ages of 18 and 60, in good general health, and willing to consider helping any patient in need.
There are three drives being held in honor of Jalyn on the following dates:
July 26 Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
July 29 Friday, 11a.m. – 4:30p.m.
1000 Eleanor Street
College Station, TX 77840
“Walk for Jalyn”
July 30 Saturday, 8:30 a.m.
Wolfpen Creek Trails
1015 Colgate Drive
College Station, TX 77840
Those who cannot attend the drives can register online at join.marrow.org/save1life. For more information, visit marrow.sw.org.
About the author
Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.