More than 800 attend bone marrow screening
More than 800 people came out for a bone marrow donation drive Saturday at the East Quogue Firehouse for a pair of friends who are battling cancer.
Tom Corrigan, of East Quogue, and Matt Curran, of Hampton Bays, who met in a bar a decade ago, both need bone marrow transplants. Curran, 48, learned he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in February 2009. Corrigan, 52, a retired detective with the New York Police Department's Terrorism Task Force, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in mid-November.
"Now, I am calling him to see how he is doing," Curran said of Corrigan.
Curran said of the turnout, which registered 863 people, "We are very lucky to live here. I wouldn't live anywhere else."
The lives of both men could be saved with a bone-marrow transplant, which transfers healthy stem cells from a donor into the bone marrow of a patient.
Jennifer Tiska, 41, of East Quogue, organized the drive, at which more than 40 people volunteered, including members of the East Quogue Fire Department. Boy Scout Troop 68 from Westhampton also had a bake sale and donated $755 to the New York Blood Center in honor of the men.
"It's been really an easy job because there are so many people who want to help," said Tiska, whose daughter Samantha, 12, is friends with Corrigan's daughter Caroline, 12.
The drive brought out people like Vikki Saso, 48, of East Quogue, who had her medical history screened and her cheek swabbed to collect DNA.
"I didn't realize how easy it was," said Saso, whose daughter is best friends with Corrigan's daughter. "It is something everybody should do."
So many people came to the drive that a worker had to go to Corona, Queens, to get more registration kits.
Jair Thompson, coordinator of the Be The Match Registry at the New York Blood Center, said it would take about four to six weeks for the donors' information to be put into the national registry. If someone is a match, they do not have to donate marrow, but they should, he said.
"You are probably the only person who can save their life," Thompson said.
Curran said he is optimistic about his illness because it has prompted him to spend more time with his sons Patrick, 8, and Cian, 5.
"You force yourself to do those things because you don't want to miss out, and knowing that I might not be here," said Curran, who is a sales supervisor for Boening Brothers Inc., a beer wholesale distributor in North Lindenhurst.
Corrigan, who has four children, lost his younger brother Michael, his sister Eileen and his father Thomas to cancer. His sister Patti also is organizing another bone marrow drive on Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Cornerstone Tavern on Second Avenue and 51st Street in Manhattan.
"You have to laugh about this stuff," Corrigan said. "If not, you are not going to make it. It's not about feeling sorry for yourself."