Save a life; donate bone marrow

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2010

My cousin, Joshua Ragsdale, was diagnosed with CML (leukemia), which is the worst kind of leukemia you can have, on Sept. 7, 2009.

He was placed on the bone marrow registry list immediately. Joshua has been undergoing all kinds of bone biopsies, chemotherapy, blood transfusions and other tests to keep him alive and to get him ready in case there was a match.

In January of this year he was notified that there was a match and he would be able to get the bone marrow transplant. It was a 1 in 12 million match.

This was definitely a miracle for him. Joshua and his family flew to Bethesda, Md., to a cancer institute to start the transplant process a few weeks ago.

A week later he received a phone call stating that his donor had backed out and would not be doing the transplant.

There is not another match in the whole bone marrow registry list. The doctors told him he would have to go back home and hope the donor would change his mind or that another match was found.

Doctors say they can keep the leukemia from sending his body into a crisis for approximately a month, but after that, he will get much worse.

When he got back home, he was put in the hospital. His leukemia has now spread to his brain.

The doctors told him if he had received the transplant, the leukemia would not have spread. He now has to have chemotherapy injected directly into his spine, and he has to have a port placed in his head.

He has two months of intense chemo, and after that, if a match is found, he can get the transplant. Otherwise, it does not look good.

Not only for Joshua, but for others, please go to www.marrow.org and sign up to see if you could be a donor.

I want everyone to know how important being a donor really is.

The Web site explains what steps you have to go through, but the first test is very simple and involves cotton swabbing your mouth.

Most people think being a marrow donor would require giving the actual bone marrow, but that’s not always the case with adults.

If you are a match, medical professionals give you shots leading up to the donation to increase the number of cells in your blood stream.

They can take your blood and extract the cells, avoiding any surgical procedures. It’s very harmless.

Even if you aren’t a match for my cousin, you could be a match to someone else who also needs a transplant. You could save someone’s life!

Joshua is originally from Natchez. He lives in Nashville, is 32 and is engaged to be married.

He writes songs for Sony/ATV Music Publishing Co. You can learn more about him at www.facebook.com/joshua.ragsdale or www.caringbridge.org/visit/joshuaragsdale.

He has the most positive attitude anyone could ever have. He always has a sweet smile on his face, no matter what is going on.

For those of you who can sign up to help anyone out there, thank you in advance.

Sara Williams

Natchez resident