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NEWS | Aug. 30, 2016

Victory on the battlefield giving the gift of life

By Chief Master Sgt. Chad Ballance 628th Medical Group

Every morning we all begin the day by assessing our daily battlefield.  For some, it is as simple as evaluating the upcoming tasks for the day.  For others, their assessment requires progress towards completion of their college degree, movement forward on a pending promotion or the birth of a child.  But there are others whose battlefield is the pending loss of a loved one to a fatal blood disease. 

Today, I want to focus on those fighting that battle.  Every year, hundreds of our fellow service members are fighting for their lives against one of these fatal diseases and the only option for victory is a bone marrow transplant or stem cell donation. The memory of a child named Cavion became the motivation for my wife and me to join the fight against these fatal blood diseases. 

Cavion had been diagnosed with leukemia and for two years the DoD marrow donor program tried to find a match without success.  A child and a family member of our Air Force, passed away because a match couldn't be found. 

For the past 15 years, it has been a driving force in our lives to help others like Cavion.  If a donor is determined to be a potential match, blood samples are taken and forwarded to Washington, D.C. for further matching.  If a viable match is made, the donor travels to D.C. for a complete, no cost physical.  While there, donor procedures are explained and questions are answered.  Becoming a donor requires full commitment because it wouldn't be fair to offer false hope to a patient or their family.  We want folks to be committed to the cause. We defend freedom and these folks are being oppressed by fatal diseases. We want to give them their freedom back.  We need people committed to go all the way to the finish line.

My wife Amber and I have both donated to unrelated leukemia patients and we see these efforts as defining points in our lives.  We took the opportunity to assist others.  I describe the pain I felt with the marrow donation as almost like being punched in the hip, but I walked around the same day. Amber went through a peripheral blood stem cell treatment and commented, "After the procedure I felt sore but I was still able to go and see our nation's capital. I was a little achy. I had an upset stomach afterwards but they gave me something to help the nausea."  

Earlier this month, JB Charleston held an installation-wide marrow recruitment drive.  The event enrolled 703 new donor registrants.  Starting immediately, you can visit your 628th Medical Group Laboratory and self-register in under 15 minutes Monday through Friday.  So, if you are between the ages of 18-60 and in good health, come visit the 628th Medical Group and make a difference.  Help us achieve victory on this battlefield by giving the gift of life!