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Correction News

December 2000

Officer Encourages Others To Become Bone Marrow Donors

By Pamela Walker

NEWPORT- Charles E. Richmond, food service officer at Carteret Correctional Center, wants everyone to know how rewarding being a bone marrow donor and how the experience can enrich your life.

Richmond says his journey in the donor program began in 1994 when there was a drive at Camp Lejeune where he was stationed as a Marine. He gave blood to find out if he would be a possible match for a person in need of a bone marrow transplant. In June 1996, about a month after he started working at Carteret, the Red Cross contacted Richmond about a young boy with leukemia who he might be able to help.

Further blood work showed Richmond was a perfect match for the boy. The transplant procedure was scheduled for September, but was canceled when the boy went into remission. Two years later Richmond got another call. "I received the call that put me on the journey of hope," said Richmond. The young boy, then 10-years-old, had come out of remission and his health was failing fast.

Richmond went to New Bern for more blood tests and it was determined he was still a good match for the boy. The transplant procedure was scheduled again, but rescheduled twice because the boy was so ill. The boy had to go through extensive radiation and chemotherapy to kill his own immune system before he could receive the bone marrow. Once this was done, Richmond says there was no turning back. Doctors told him the boy had to have the marrow within 36 hours or he would die.

Richmond describes his procedure. "I went to Medical College of Virginia Hospitals around 7 a.m. to check in. By 9 a.m. I was under the anesthetic. The surgeons made two small incisions in my lower back, then using special syringes they removed approximately one pint of marrow." Richmond was then taken to recovery. "I had some minor pain from the incisions in my back, but it went away fairly quickly and I was back to work within a week." Richmond says the staff at the hospital and the Bone Marrow Center treated him and his wife like royalty.

When he last checked shortly after the procedure, the boy was at home with a nurse coming to check on him every other day. The recipient has the option of remaining anonymous, so Richmond does not know who the boy is or where he lives. "I only know that there is a certain satisfaction knowing that I helped someone in need," said Richmond. He added that he hopes other department employees will search within themselves and find the love and compassion to help those who are desperately ill and need a healthy ally to give them a chance for a new life.

For more information on becoming a bone marrow donor call the American Red Cross at 1-800-MARROW-7.

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