CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It's easy to say 'Happy Valentine's Day' but actions speak louder than words. Advocates are using the holiday as a time to encourage people to express love for others by signing up to be donor and help save a person's life.
Jenni Wachter, never dreamed that she would be an advocate for the bone marrow registry until it hit home. Her seven year old son Wade was diagnosed Shwachman-Diamond syndrome when he was very young. If Wade's bone marrow continues to weaken it has a chance to develop into leukemia, and because of that the Watchman's have continued sharing how important the registry is to them.
"I want to help others, and I feel like we are," Mrs. Wachter said. "Because of wanting to save his life and knowing that someone needs to advocate, I am proud to be part of it. The recipient who receives your organ or your bone marrow is going to thank you endlessly because you've saved their life. That is a great honor to have to be someone's lifesaver."
After scheduling numerous bone marrow registration drives and having people from all over reach out in support, the Wachter family has been able to find three people that match Wade's DNA and are willing to help. But other families with a loved one that needs bone marrow aren't as lucky.
"There are families that have a unique cultural background, or they are a different ethnicity," Mrs. Wachter said. "Or they have a rare DNA that requires someone else just as rare or just as diverse to be able to be their match. So it's very important for anyone to join."
Even if you're a registered organ donor on your license, a swab test is required to join the bone marrow registry and can be ordered online at this website.
Dr. Gretchen Price, a physician at St. Francis Medical Center said she interacts with patients that have received transplants on a daily basis. From people that have another person's heart, lungs, liver, kidney, to even retina transplants or burn victims with new skin.
"It's really the ultimate expression of sacrifice on your part," Dr. Price said. "If you're willing to communicate to your family, 'Hey I want to be an organ donor when I die and your family to be able to carry out those wishes of following through and donating your organs so somebody else can continue to live."
And there are other ways for you to give back to patients in need right now by donating blood, plasma or platelets at an upcoming blood drive.
More information about signing up and the how organ donations work can be found on this page of the DMV's website.