Though the Witkin family's story is a heartbreakingly hopeful one, Lisa Witkin says that theirs is "not any unique case."
Her son, Andrew Witkin, 15, was born with a rare blood disorder and needs to find a bone marrow donor match to fight his ailing health.
"But there are many children, as well as adults, who need bone marrow transplants," Witkin said. In the United States alone, 6,000 people search the donor list each day for a donor match, according to DKMS, the largest bone marrow donor center in the world.
And if you are between the ages of 18 and 55, and in generally good health, you could be the match one of them is looking for.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Aug. 22 the St. Charles Borromeo Church at 417 S. Orchard St. in Syracuse will host a bone marrow donor registration drive, where people can sign up to be a potential donor. The process requires a swab of the inner cheek to collect a tissue sample and the completion of a registration form.
Organized by the Geddes Baseball Moms Committee, the drive is in honor of Andrew, who will start his freshman year at Westhill High School in the fall, though anyone who registers Saturday to donate will be placed on the largest national bone marrow registry and become eligible to donate to any potential match.
Tammy Carter-Kinney, one of the mothers who established the committee, said one of the great things about the drive is that it might help find Andrew a match but would also make more donors available to the national registry.
"It's just about doing the right thing," Carter-Kinney said.
Andrew is like most teenage boys. He loves sports, especially baseball, and just wants to fit in. But unlike most high schoolers, Andrew has spent his entire life battling a rare blood disease. He was diagnosed with Severe Congenital Neutrapenia as a baby, a disorder that prevents him from creating the type of white blood cell important in fighting infection.