DAVID GRANOVSKY

Portrait of an Angel: Mary Kruse

In ALL ARTICLES, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on March 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm
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Angel by DaVinci

Volunteers take bone marrow to where it’s needed

3/6/2009 9:50:02 AM – By Jeff Hansel – Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

On her missions, Mary Kruse of Rochester must prepare for the unexpected: Quick flight changes, multiple taxi, plane and bus connections, delays at the airport.

She’s not a secret agent. Instead, she’s one of about 250 couriers for the National Bone Marrow Donor Program.

Her volunteer work could be viewed as a way to get free trips and hotel rooms. Indeed, she’ll occasionally stay an extra night after a mission, but she pays for the extra hotel time and her focus is marrow delivery.

“It is the most gratifying feeling to know that when you hand that over that hopefully we’re saving a life,” she said.

To save more people, she and the five other couriers in Rochester need more people to register as marrow and peripheral blood stem cell donors.

“There is a great need to increase the number of adult donors on the registry,” said program spokeswoman Kristen Spargo. Couriers take coolers of bone marrow or stem cells from where a donor is to where the patient is being treated.

“We fly from city to city, anywhere across the United States, and pick up the bone marrow and deliver it to the next city, where the transplant center is,” Kruse said. She has never done an international mission, but might someday.

Spargo said people with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other conditions need transplants. Chemotherapy disables the immune system and stem cells or marrow help rebuild immunity. Volunteers get intense training about topics like patient privacy and airport security guidelines.

Why are couriers so important? Because 70 percent of people who need a marrow or stem cell transplant must seek a match outside their families. The patient and donor are rarely in the same city.

via Postbulletin.com: Rochester, MN.

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