HUMBOLDT - For Kevin McCullough, a lifesaving medical procedure is likely his best chance at beating cancer, but he needs the community's help to make it possible.
McCullough, of Renwick, was diagnosed with cancer in June 2011 and needs a bone marrow transplant.
"It started out I was treated for an abscess around Father's Day and something was off with my blood counts," said McCullough. "I found out it was chronic myeloid leukemia."
McCullough said chronic myeloid is one of the more treatable forms of leukemia, but it has since turned into acute leukemia, which has a higher rate of returning after treatment. Undergoing a bone marrow transplant will give him the highest odds of survival with less chance of relapse.
"It has a higher risk of coming back," said McCullough. "That's why they want to do the transplant."
McCullough is currently undergoing his second round of chemotherapy treatments at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and is working with insurance to begin the process of undergoing the transplant. The process of finding potential bone marrow donors has also begun, however no one in McCullough's immediate family came up as a match.
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: St. Mary Catholic School, 303 Third Ave. N., Humboldt
"I have six siblings, some of them matched to each other, but none of them were a good match for me," McCullough said.
To assist McCullough in finding a life-saving donor, staff at St. Mary Catholic School, where McCullough's wife teaches, will hold a donor registry drive Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the school, 303 Third Ave. N., in Humboldt. The drive is being held to not only help McCollough find a match, but also to raise awareness about the need for bone marrow donors nationwide.
All those who register as donors will be entered into the University of Iowa Bone Marrow Donor Program and the Be The Match Registry. It costs approximately $100 to enter each new member into the Iowa Donor Registry. Potential donors are not expected to pay the full $100 to register, but it is suggested they contribute a monetary donation to help cover the costs, said Kristyn Olson, of Bode, a local volunteer for the Iowa Marrow Donor Program.
Thrivent will also be matching funds to help with the cost of donor registries.
Local residents between the ages of 18 and 60, who meet the health requirements, are eligible to register as donors.
"They must be willing to donate to anyone," said Olson.
The process of being tested as a donor is relatively simple, Olson said.
"You just come in, fill out the necessary paperwork and have your cheek swabbed," she said. "There's no blood work involved and it only takes a few minutes."
Olson said if a donor is matched with a recipient, the process of donating the bone marrow has also become a simpler, less invasive process than it used to be.
"If you're a match with someone, the Bone Marrow Bank will contact you as a possible donor," said Olson. "About 75 percent of all donations now go through the blood, very few have to have surgery. The recovery time for donors is only about two days and they're back to normal. It has become a much easier process."
Even if a donor isn't his match, McCullough said it's still a good way to help others in need of a transplant.
"It's a great deal," he said. "It's a good thing to go through to help others."
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515)573-2141 or email@example.com