A brief cheek swab can wind up saving a life, and the life saved may be one of Pittsburg’s own.
On Feb. 23, Be The Match Registry will be camped out in the atrium of East Texas Medical Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to take samples for the registry, which is just a sweep of the inside of a person’s cheek with a cotton swab. The organization nationally matches stem cell donors with those in need of a transplant.
Wanda Warrick, a resident of Pittsburg, has been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a precursor to leukemia, and is in need of a stem cell transplant. She and her husband, Larry Warrick, joined up with Be The Match, to help search for a donor.
“There is a 35 percent chance she won’t live through the procedure,” Mr. Warrick said.
He said the other way of looking at it would be if they wait too long, the disease could go further south and turn into leukemia, which is a cancer of the bone marrow.
Mrs. Warrick was diagnosed five and a half years ago with the disease and told that within four or five years she would have to have a stem cell transplant. Mr. Warrick said they’ve been lucky with the disease so far.
“Hers has been real slow to decline,” he said.
The couple went to visit a specialist in Seattle, where doctors started researching it before anyone else, he said.
“They do about 600 transplants a year,” Mr. Warrick said. “He [the doctor] goes, ‘10 years at the most, anybody would go with that. You’re one of the more fortunate ones.’”
But, even the fortunate ones still see the decline. Mrs. Warrick is a nurse by trade. She started out working in dispatch in Camp County, and then on to working with the Pittsburg Volunteer Fire Department. She is an LVN nurse, and has worked at Titus Regional Medical Center, ETMC Pittsburg and ETMC Gilmer, on the surgical floor as well as in the emergency room. She has also volunteered with the Pittsburg Volunteer Fire Department and was the first woman voted in as captain, and the first woman to receive the Firefighter of the Year Award.
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