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Local need highlights importance of marrow donation drive
MarrowDrive 5093
Ileana Quinones, left, explains the process of registering to be a bone marrow donor Wednesday as Anthony Hill swabs his cheek and Sydnee Freeman fills out a registration form. The donor drive was held in honor of Evan Nelms, a 5-year-old Richmond Hill boy who was diagnosed with leukemia in April. - photo by Crissie Elric

A quick swab of the cheek.
That’s nearly all that was needed from community members to register as bone marrow donors Wednesday during a donor drive at the Children’s Village daycare and tutoring center in the Crossroads Center in Richmond Hill.
The drive was held in honor of Evan Nelms, a local 5-year-old who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April, a rare and aggressive form of leukemia, according to Ileana Quinones with the ICLA Foundation, a recruitment center for the Be the Match bone marrow registry.
Quinones has been traveling throughout the greater-Savannah area in hopes of registering as many people as possible to become bone marrow donors.
“It’s been very well today, we’ve had about 15 people register,” she said.
Anthony Hill was one of those to register in Richmond Hill although he doesn’t know Evan or his family.
“I don’t know him, but my daughter goes (to daycare) here and that’s kind of important,” Hill said.
Evan and his family could not be at the donor drive due to doctor’s appointments in Atlanta. But Evan’s mother, Evette Cooper, said she is very grateful for the community support that has been given through the bone marrow drives.
“Before yesterday at 1 p.m., we thought we had five exact matches, and we met with a bone marrow transplant team and that wasn’t correct,” she said Friday. “When you have a match, you’re very excited about that. There are tons of parents who don’t have matches like us. So I’m extremely hopeful that there will be a match out of the drives that are going on — I’m very, very, very hopeful.”
Cooper said her son has gone through two rounds of chemotherapy and is currently in remission. A bone marrow test is done before each round of chemotherapy, she said.
“The next bone marrow test is on Monday before the third round of chemo and we hope that he is still in remission,” she said. “Then he’ll have another round (of chemo) and most likely he’ll need a (bone marrow) transplant.”
But even through his treatments, Cooper said Nelms’ spirits are up.
“He is up and down, he just wants to be a kid and there are limitations around that,” she said. “But overall he’s a fighter, so he’s fighting and now he is up and walking around.”
Read more in the June 30 edition of the News.

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