Several years ago, Larchmont’s Ben Nagin, father of three, went to a local bone marrow drive, had the inside of his cheeks quickly swabbed for DNA samples
and “almost forgot about it, basically.”
Until, that is, about 18 months ago, when Nagin learned he was a potential match for a dying 8-year-old Philadelphia girl – and that his stem cells (now harvested and transplanted more frequently than bone marrow) were possibly a last chance for her beating leukemia.
Today Morgan Donato is alive and well, recently returning to school after beating blood cancer with Nagin’s help. The two, whose identities were initially kept confidential, met at the baseball game pictured. Morgan also attended Nagin’s son’s recent Bar Mitzvah.
“She was going to die,” Nagin said. “Now she has a life ahead of her.”
Nagin hopes others will be inspired to do the same.
As one of the organizers of a bone marrow (or stem cell) drive on Dec. 5 at Larchmont Temple, Nagin is hoping that his experiences of being a stem cell donor – and how relatively easy it was – will take away some of the mystery, and subsequent fear, about being a donor, meaning more people will be willing to do it if need be.
“It’s the easiest life you’ll ever save,” Nagin said. “You don’t have to run into a burning building, you don’t have to injure yourself”
This comes on the heels to a direct response drive in this Community a few weeks ago also at Larchmont Temple.
In fact, with stem cell, rather than bone marrow, transplants becoming an increasingly common means for fighting leukemia, Nagin said what’s required of donors “is nothing compared what you think you may be doing.”
The week of daily stem cell-boosting injections, followed by the extraction, and return, of a significant amount of blood (from which stem cells are removed) leaves donors feeling a bit tired, with some flu-like symptoms, but that’s the worst of it, Nagin said.
Elisabeth Radow, another organizer, said it’s important for people to understand what it takes to be a donor — who are put on an international registry – before being DNA tested.
Otherwise, there’s the risk of potential donors backing out if they are indeed identified as a match for something – and that kind of false hope can be devastating for families desperately seeking help, she said.
The drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday Dec.5 at Larchmont Temple, 75 Larchmont Avenue.