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Gift Of Life

Port Washington resident Wendy Herrick-Whitely had no idea when she answered her phone one day last November that she could potentially save the life of a 10-year-old leukemia patient, halfway around the world.

Several years ago, Herrick-Whitely participated in a bone marrow drive sponsored by Port Washington-based nonprofit, the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation (LSLF.org). A quick mouth swab helped determine Herrick-Whitely’s type and her name was added to the National Bone Marrow Registry. “Like most people, I have had friends and loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer and always felt powerless to help in a meaningful way,” Herrick-Whitely said. “When I attended the marrow drive, and added my name to the list of marrow donors, I was happy to do it but it seemed like such long shot that I would ever be called.”

Then the call came. She was a match.

 “I was assigned to a coordinator, who helped me with all the logistics,” Herrick-Whitely said “They handled just about everything, from making sure I had a ride to the city to covering my expenses for gas and parking. They answered my questions and were incredibly responsive. I admit that I was bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. But they could not have been more helpful and considerate.”

 “Throughout the process I kept thinking about this poor child’s mother,” she said. “As a mother, the most important thing in the world to me is the health of my son, Joey. Imagine being a mother, receiving this devastating news that your child has leukemia. Now imagine that somewhere in the world, a stranger can donate the healthy stem cells that will help your child fight his disease.” 

In early February, Wendy received word that her young patient began producing healthy cells on his own and will soon be released from the hospital. 

Evelyn Strauss, the executive director of the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation, shares how proud she is of Wendy. “Sadly, there are donors who get matched with a cancer patient and for whatever reason, they back out. Wendy stayed all the way through. She never lost sight of what was important,” she said.

To learn more please visit the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation’s website, LSLF.org.