PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 120 doctors, nurses, technicians and other Singing River Health System employees lined up to register as a bone marrow donor in honor of their co-worker, Dr. Jeremy Simpler, who is battling cancer.
"I don't want to get emotional, but very, very devastating when we found this out because he is wonderful. He's a people person. He treated us like family," Singing River Health System Surgical Tech Patricia Taylor said.
A stranger, who gave 40 seconds to get his or her cheeks swabbed, could end up saving Simpler's life. Now, his co-workers want to repay that favor.
"Every day, we have someone looking for a match," Mattie Coburn, with the Mississippi Marrow Donor Program said.
Coburn said 70 percent of patients who need a transplant rely on the registry, because they do not have a match in their family.
There are two different ways donors are asked to donate.
"Bone marrow transplant, it is outpatient. You are put to sleep under anesthesia. We are going to go to the hip and pelvic bone with a sterile needle and syringe," Coburn said. "You are not going to feel it. We keep you overnight for observation, and release you with a Band-Aid over where the needles were. PBSC, peripheral blood stem cell, is similar to giving platelets. We draw blood, separate the cells, you get your blood back."
Three years ago, Singing River Health System Dr. Clinton Hull donated bone marrow.
"It was a really good feeling," Hull said. "The last communication I had through the bone marrow service was the patient had returned to their daily activities and living, so that makes me feel really good."
"We should be willing to help one another, because we could be in his situation or it could be our family or loved one," Taylor said.
If someone on the registry is contacted to be a donor, they do not have to pay anything for the procedure. You can register to be on the donor registry anytime at http://bethematch.org/.