It’s normal for Fairfield West Elementary School principal Missy Muller to get stopped for a hug in the halls of her school, but it’s happening a little more often this week.
Muller has myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a rare condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough healthy blood cells. MDS can become leukemia if left untreated, and Muller needs to find a bone marrow match to improve her odds.
“Last week was a little tough, because the kids found out,” she said Wednesday. “So then, they’re all hugging me.”
Finding a match for bone marrow donation, like finding a match for a kidney transplant, is hard.
"They are looking, there are 12 (compatibility) markers, as they explained, and they really want a 10 out of 10,” Muller said. “A 100% match is the best option."
Over 37 million people are registered on BeTheMatch.org, a site that connects would-be donors with compatible recipients, but site spokesperson Linda Alexander said the odds can still be stacked against the person in need of the donation.
“We've had patients that have been searching for years for their perfect match, and we know the match is out there, it’s just that they are not in the registry,” Alexander said.
That’s why the staff at Fairfield West are hosting a Find The Match event Thursday night at 6 p.m., right outside the elementary school. Participants from 18-40 can swab their cheeks to provide some genetic information to a match database.
Staffers hope it’ll help Muller, but she hopes it’ll also help other patients waiting for their match to appear.
"Someone who didn't have a match, they re-ran it and they had a 100% match for them,” Muller said. “So that was hopeful when I was just there this past month. The point is to get as many people to sign up on BeTheMatch.org and to get more people on the list."