Bone-marrow drive planned for Dec. 23

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By Jesef Williams

David and Sarah Burbach’s son, Michael, died 13 years ago from severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, a genetic disorder that weakens the immune system.

Before Michael’s death, the Burbach’s younger child, Laura Margaret, was also diagnosed with the same condition.

But there’s a chance that you may possess the gift that can save her life.

Laura Margaret, now 15, needs a bone-marrow transplant.

The operation would involve her receiving healthy blood cells from a donor with a matching tissue type.

Members of Hopewell United Methodist Church are sponsoring a bone-marrow drive for her from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 23 at the church at 3734 Heyward Hough Road.

Laura Margaret’s grandparents, Georg and Magdalena Burbach, pitched the idea to have the drive to help find a match for their granddaughter. Laura Margaret is listed on an international waiting list for a bone-marrow transplant.

“Her only hope is a bone-marrow transplant,” Mag-dalena Burbach said of her granddaughter, who lives in Madison, Ga. “We hope and pray that maybe someone in Lancaster County might be the one we’re looking for.”

You have to be between 18 and 60 and in good health to be a donor.

Staff from the National Marrow Donor Program will be on hand at the church Dec. 23 to conduct simple swabs of the cheeks and gum line to detect the person’s cell type.

It costs $52 to have that sent to a lab for processing. Church members are raising money to help offset some of the initial lab fees.

Addie Sanders of the National Marrow Donor Program said just three out of every 10 people who need a bone-marrow transplant receive one.

She encourages every eligible person to join the more than seven million people on the national registry of willing donors.

“There are 6,000 patients every day looking for someone to save their life,” Sanders said. “They (potential donors) need to take advantage of this opportunity.”  

David Burbach said bone-marrow drives have been held in the past for her daughter in other areas, including Greenville and Abbeville.   

In the meantime, Laura Margaret’s lungs have suffered permanent damage.

She has to take antibiotics to ward off simple ailments and fight infections. A sickness such as the common cold could turn fatal for someone with SCID.

David Burbach said he and his wife are grateful for the folks organizing the upcoming drive.

“I’m very delighted that they’re putting forth the effort,” he said. “That the community cares that much about my daughter.”

Laura Margaret’s parents both attended Buford area schools. Her maternal grandparents, Eugene and Drucie Eddy, once lived in Lancaster. Eugene Eddy pastored at Hopewell United Methodist in the 1970s.

For details about the upcoming drive at Hopewell United Methodist, call the church at 286-4999 or J.P. Ormand at 286-0588.  For details about bone-marrow transplants, visit www.marrow.org or call (800) 627-7692.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152