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Just knowing that I have the power to save a life was more than enough reason to help volunteer for the upcoming bone marrow registry drive in Pontiac! The drive, coordinated by my friend Amy Hooper-Johnson is in honor of her sister Elaine Hooper who died at the age of 46 of a blood related cancer after waiting years for a bone marrow transplant.

Anyone in good health can be a donor. Participants will simply fill out a form and have a cheek swab taken by a trained representative from the National Marrow Donor Program. No blood is drawn and no fingers are poked.

Please stop by the drive this Saturday, June 29th at Walton Charter Academy, 744 E. Walton Blvd., between Joslyn and Giddings roads. Contact Tarita Gibson at tgibson@nmdp.org or call 313 833-2624 to register as a donor and/or to volunteer at the event.

You can read Elaine Hooper’s story below.

Source: The Oakland Press

Amy Johnson watched her sister Elaine Hooper die at the age of 46 of a blood-related cancer after waiting years for a bone marrow transplant that was too late to save her.

Now, three years after her death, Johnson, their mother Romain Hooper and sister Deltrina Little, are holding a bone marrow registry drive in honor of Hooper to give others a chance to live a longer life.

Elaine Hooper taught elementary and middle-school students in the Pontiac school district before she was laid off, and then she taught eighth-grade language arts at Walton Charter Academy for 11⁄2 years — until the disease called myelofibrosis drained her of the energy to continue.

Myelofibrosis is a terminal illness that creates scar tissue in the bone marrow. Hooper had never been married and her only children were those in her classrooms.

The family of the 1982 Pontiac Northern High School graduate, who was in the choir and praise group at Welcome Missionary Baptist Church, held a bone marrow drive on her behalf a few years ago, when Hooper was still alive and fighting the disease.

They were in hopes an African-American donor would be found because there were no matches on the national registry.

She said the family was devastated by her sister’s death. But now they want to do something to help others in the same situation.

“Even though Elaine didn’t make it, we want to help someone else to make it,” Johnson said about the family.

“We think she would want us to do this,” said Johnson, who has been on the registry herself for close to five years.

It is easy to become a bone marrow donor; just having a trained volunteer take a swab from the inside of your cheek will do it, Johnson explained.

According to the organization, Be The Match, “It has been shown that patients are more likely to find donor matches within their own racial or ethnic background.

“For African-Americans specifically, we have more genetic diversity than any other race, making it even harder to locate a match.”

“The number of African-Americans in the registry is low,” said Johnson, who is registrar and office manager at Walton Charter Academy.

If your schedule doesn’t permit doing either, a contribution would be welcome for Be The Match to provide more research.

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