REGION: Residents hope to “Be the Match” for boy with leukemia

Residents came out hoping to “Be the Match” to help Ronald Hogas, a fourth-grader battling leukemia, at the Crosswicks Community House on Nov. 10.

by Amy Batista, Special Writer
CHESTERFIELD — Residents came out hoping to “Be the Match” to help Ronald Hogas, a fourth-grader battling leukemia, at the Crosswicks Community House on Nov. 10.
   ”We are out here helping register people into the national registry in support of Ronald Hogas, a local fourth-grader at the Chesterfield Elementary who is currently battling leukemia,” said Daisy Troop Leader Melissa Hoffman, of Chesterfield.
   Ronald was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. After a three-and-a-half-year battle, he was approaching the end of his treatment.
   The hope was his treatment would have ended in October, but this was not the case. He has relapsed and now is facing the beginning of another long battle to recovery.
   This is a difficult reality because he was doing well, according to the bethematchfoundation website.
   A new phase begins now for Ronald on the journey to complete remission. The next few months will be critical with a new round of intense chemotherapy as well as radiation to get him into remission again. Once he is in remission he will need a bone marrow transplant, according to the website.
   This will be an ongoing effort for as long as Ronald undergoes his treatments, which will take another few years. Ronald already has been through three years of treatments, leaving the Hogas family with a financial burden, according to the website.
   Two bone marrow national registries were held, one Oct. 11 at the Chesterfield Elementary School during which 36 potential donors registered. Another was held Nov. 10 at the Crosswicks Community House during which 23 possible donors registered.
   The first drive was organized by teacher Lori Christensen, who was unable to be reached as of press time. The Hogas also were unable to be reached as of press time.
   Thirteen girls from Daisy Troop No. 23468 of Northern Burlington Girl Scout Council helped greet visitors and register them.
   ”We are giving baked goods to people who come and sign up and join the registry, and we are also accepting donations that will also be donated to be the match,” Ms. Hoffman said.
   Betty Kelly, account executive of the Northeast District of the National Marrow Donor Program, was helping people register for the program.
   According to Ms. Kelly, it is the largest and most diverse registry in the world.
   ”We connect donors with patients and doctors with science and research,” Ms. Kelly said.
   According to Ms. Kelly, less than 1 percent of parents match their own children, 30 percent find a sibling match, and 70 percent look on the registry for a unrelated donor.
   Ms. Kelly was looking for eligible people for the registry. To be eligible, donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44, meet the health guidelines, be willing to donate to any patient in need and agree to keep contact information current so the registry can reach them quickly if they are a match for a patient.
   Potential donors are given cheek swabs for their DNA, then are entered on the registry in about four weeks.
   Corinne Pecht, of Chesterfield, was one of the participants, who sat down to have the inside of her cheek swabbed four different times.
   ”My neighbor is kind of running this,” Ms. Pecht said. “I’m supporting her, and I’m supporting the cause. I hope a lot of people come out and support.”
   According to Ms. Kelly, doctors look for matches daily for their patients.
   ”If they ever match anybody, they will ask them if they are willing to donate either bone marrow or stem cells,” Ms. Kelly said.
   Marrow donation is a surgical procedure performed under anesthesia. The donor must stay in the hospital overnight. It is typically a four-hour process and is similar to giving platelets during a blood drive, according to Ms. Kelly.
   Those interested in finding out more information may contact ms. Kelly at 877-601-1926, ext. 7722, or email her at bkelly@nmdp.org.