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Exchange blood for variety of sweets

FAIRMONT - Anyone who wants some free sweets Sunday can exchange a teaspoon of blood for a variety of cookies and other baked goods.

The blood drive to find a bone marrow match for Lisa Boyce, a Fairmont woman who has chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Mary Lou Retton Drive.

Boyce, who held a Longaberger Basket Bingo event two weeks ago to raise funds to help pay for the blood tests, wants to make sure that people understand that only a teaspoon of blood about half a vial is needed.

"A lot of people at bingo were thinking it was a pint," she said Friday. "It's only a teaspoon that has to be drawn."

With that small sample of blood, the testing company, New York-based DKMS, can perform high resolution tissue typing, which allows testers to find a donor more easily without a lot of additional testing.

To help entice donors, Boyce has gotten donations of cookies and other treats from all over the country, including caramel popcorn from Rocky Mountain Popcorn in Colorado, cookies from the Dancing Deer Baking Co. in Massachusetts, Krispy Kreme doughnuts from Washington, Pa., as well as other desserts from local businesses such as Food Lion, Ryan's Restaurant and Eat'n Park.

Each blood donor can pay the $65 the test costs DKMS, which will send representative to Fairmont to take the blood. But no one will be turned away.

The bingo event raised about $7,000 for blood tests, more than the $5,000 that had been Boyce's goal and enough to cover about 100 blood tests.

"We expect over 150 people," Boyce said of the blood drive.

In addition to expecting some of the bingo players from the March 4 event to show up, "there are a lot of people who weren't at the bingo that I know are coming."

Blood donors also will have a chance to win a couple of door prizes a candy tree and a flower pot filled with gardening items and candy.

Boyce was diagnosed with CML just before Christmas 2001. A former bank employee, she eventually had to quit her job because of the symptoms she experiences.

Currently, Boyce manages the disease with a daily pill of a breakthrough chemotherapy drug called Gleevec, which keeps her in remission.

She came out of remission once and her dosage had to be upped from 400 mg to 800 mg. If she comes out of remission again, a bone marrow transplant might be necessary, and if so, her doctors would like to have a donor lined up.

That's not the easiest thing in the world. Statistics from DKMS, the blood testing company, state that out of 35,000 leukemia patients who needed bone marrow transplants in 2006, only 2,500 got them.

Close relatives are the best bet, but Boyce's cousins who were tested matched on four of six points. A six-of-six match is preferable, Boyce said.

Other potential matches have been found through a blood marrow registry, but the best one is five out of six points, and that person lives in a different country.

Boyce has been overwhelmed by all the support she has received, both from the donations to the attendance at the bingo event, which she believes might have exceeded 300 people.

"I was told it was one of the biggest bingos they've ever had there," she said. "It was a great turnout."

Her nephew, Jacob Lenhart, received tips for selling candy to the participants, which he then put into the kitty with the rest of the money that was raised through entry fees and raffles.

"After he got the tips, he said, I want to give them back to Aunt Lisa,'" Boyce said. "That just broke my heart. It was very emotional. I cried."

Jacob, 13, just dumped the money in, and Boyce estimated that it was around $20.

Several gift baskets were raffled off, and one featuring West Virginia University football team items, including a ball autographed by coach Rich Rodriguez, was the most popular.

"When we were picking that raffle, people were just looking at me," Boyce said. "We sold the most tickets to that one."

Boyce plans to be at the blood drive on Sunday even though she has not been feeling very well lately. She was just diagnosed with fluid on her lungs and is taking an antibiotic to clear that up.

"We've got to go back to the doctor next week, and we'll see what he says then," she said.

To participate in the blood drive, go to the Knights of Columbus on Mary Lou Retton Drive from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. You can donate $65 for your test, or the cost will be covered. Or, to donate money directly to the blood drive, go to the BB&T bank on Fairmont Avenue.

Source: Times-West Virginian

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