Two Long Island women — each diagnosed with leukemia — are hoping Good Samaritans will attend their separate bone marrow drives this weekend and carry with them the gift of life in their DNA.
Marcia Jabick, 59, of Deer Park, was diagnosed last year with a rare form of chronic myleogenous leukemia. Dona Brannigan, 43, of Sound Beach, was diagnosed this year on Mother’s Day with acute myelogenous leukemia.
Neither woman is expected to survive without a bone marrow transplant, and both hope to find a stranger who matches them genetically and is willing to donate bone marrow to save their lives.
Leukemia, cancer of the blood, occurs when white blood cells fail to properly develop, mature and die. Instead, the cells suffer from arrested development and because they do not die, continue proliferating at an alarming rate, crowding out normal healthy cells.
Bone marrow carries stem cells, which bear the recipe to create a new, healthy blood supply.
Neither Jabick nor Brannigan found matches among members of their families, which is why they are now appealing to the public.
“It would be the greatest gift that anyone would be able to give,” Jabick said, adding that a matched donor would offer her “a second chance at life.”
Jabick has had a series of medical difficulties over the last several years. She was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy in 2005, breast cancer in 2008 that resulted in a double mastectomy and leukemia last year.
“It has been a rough few years,” she said Monday.
Brannigan, a waitress in Sound Beach, is the mother of three children — two teeangers — and a three-year-old who has Down Syndrome.
In April of last year, after hearing about the plight of Dustin Wunderlich, 27, of Nesconset, who needed a bone marrow transplant, Brannigan, healthy at the time, volunteered to donate bone marrow. Unfortunately, she was not a match.
This year, Wunderlich is helping Brannigan. He posted information about her bone marrow drive on his website, www.2Prevail.org. The website is part of a foundation he developed to raise awareness about leukemia and Long Islanders undergoing treatment for it.
Jabick’s drive will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Deer Park Community Center, 41 Homer Ave. in Deer Park. Brannigan’s is scheduled Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Miller Place Fire House 12 Miller Place Road in Miller Place.
Registering to become a bone marrow donor requires a quick cheek swab to obtain a sample of cells, which are then studied at a laboratory to determine whether they are a match. Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 55 and in good general health.