JERSEY SHORE-Donnie Laubscher of Jersey Shore, seemed a healthy, 47-year-old husband and father when blood work from a routine colonoscopy suggested something was wrong.
After a marrow biopsy and appointments at the local cancer center, he received his diagnosis: myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare and potentially fatal stem cell disorder.
"I looked at my wife of 15 years and our 13-year-old son and was devastated at the thought of our family walking this walk," Donnie said.
He is now undergoing chemotherapy, and his doctors believe his best shot at survival is to receive a stem cell transplant, but he must first find a matching donor. To increase his odds of finding that match, his community is rallying to hold a donor drive where anyone can do a cheek swab to register as a donor.
"Somebody out there could be our hero; we just need to find them," his wife, Angie, said. "The more people who swab, the better the chances are."
Anyone can register as a donor from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 12 at Elks Lodge No. 1057, 203 N. Main St., Jersey Shore.
Angie's coworker at the Jersey Shore Hospital, April Hennigan, is coordinating the event.
Though she's only known Angie six months, she decided to put on the donor event after she saw Donnie's cancer posted on Facebook.
"My heart just broke," April said. She put her emotion into action. "I believe what you give you'll get back twofold."
There will also be a Chinese auction and the money will go to Donnie.
The swabbed cheek sample goes to DKMS, which has a national registry for matches. Though it costs DKMS 65 hours of lab work, the nonprofit doesn't charge, April said. The Elks also donated the space.
A stem cell transplant is a non-surgical, out-patient procedure that takes four to six hours over the course of one to two days, she said.
There are 10,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a donor, she said.
"If you (swab), you may save a life," April said. She hopes more than 500 people will register.
"Every five minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer," she said. "What would you do if you found out that was your husband or child?"
Those who register must be between ages 18 and 55 and in good general health. Those who register with DKMS can be found as a donor match for any patient in need of a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant.
For more information, email christian@dkms americas.org.