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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

Faith Metzinger encourages the world to get involved with a "got marrow?" sticker on her car.

Turns out she was a perfect match

By Jeanne Sager
KENOZA LAKE — September 14, 2010 — Faith Metzinger was all set to say “no.”
After all, she had sat for a swab of the cells in her mouth at the church in Jeffersonville as much out of solidarity with a sick mother as she had anything else.
And she had bad knees.
Then came the news.
The Kenoza Lake resident wasn’t simply getting a call because she’d been identified as a match for someone in need of bone marrow.
She’d been matched up with a 3-year-old boy.
A boy who had leukemia.
“I have 3-year-old boys in my home,” the daycare provider said with a sad smile. “I thought of them.”
The marrow was his.
It was May when the call came, and late last month came a second one. The boy is fine.
Better than fine. He’s out of the hospital and destined to live a normal life.
For Metzinger, that’s all she needed to hear.
The mother of two took her youngest daughter, Bridgette, with her to St. George’s Church in 2009 when she heard there was a drive going on for bone marrow donors.
The drive was to help Regina Wagner, a Jeffersonville resident suffering from leukemia, a form of cancer that often calls for a bone marrow donation for treatment.
Metzinger’s child and Wagner’s had been in band together at school. They didn’t know each other well, but the community had called for help, and she went as one mother helping another.
She gave a little money to DKMS, the group running the drive. And she allowed them to run a swab around her mouth.
“My daughter Bridgette and I went up, and I chatted with everyone, got it done, and then I completely forgot about it,” Metzinger confessed.
And then came the urgent FedEx letter.
The Metzingers had been out filling up their gas tank in preparation for the trip to daughter Colleen’s graduation from SUNY Oneonta when it arrived. Urgent or not, it would have to wait a day until Metzinger could make the call.
It was a time when she focused on her daughter, but it niggled in the back of her mind. She’d been called a perfect match. Should she or shouldn’t she?
“I was contemplating not doing it,” Metzinger recalled.
Then came the details. The boy. The illness.
She was in.
Metzinger went straight to Delaware Valley Hospital for blood tests to ensure she was fit as a fiddle. They sent her for psychological evaluations.
They offered to pay her costs.
And then by the end of June, they were ready for her to come down to a hospital in New York City and lie down on a table.
None of the warnings Metzinger had heard came true.
There was no pain. No cost.
She was put to sleep on a table – a newer procedure was done to help accommodate her knee problems – and by the time she was awakened, bone marrow had been removed from her back and taken to the boy.
“I had a nasty bruise there, like the palm size of your hand, but it didn’t hurt,” Metzinger said. “Every one said it was going to be painful, but it wasn’t.”
In fact, Metzinger climbed back in the car that day, and husband Gus was able to drive her straight back home to Kenoza Lake.
“It went fine,” Metzinger insisted. “Nobody should be afraid of this.”
At worst, Metzinger said, you will suffer the stress of wondering if you can help someone else. She’d been warned to stay away from sick people in the days leading up to her surgery – easier said than done for a daycare provider.
“Three days before the surgery, one little girl threw up all over the living room,” Metzinger said with a laugh.
The first thing that crossed her mind: would this stop the surgery?
In the end, doctors ensured her she was cleared for helping, and the surgery happened in an unheard of six weeks from the time she was identified as a donor until the date of she arrived at the hospital.
“Either the boy was very ready or this was Warren Buffet’s grandson,” Metzinger said with a laugh. “That’s just unheard of!”
After that, Metzinger was in a holding pattern. She was told to stay in bed for a day, then released to go back to her life and watch her bruise recede to a small scar on her backside.
And she waited.
Until the call came.
“The engraphment took beautifully,” she said. “He’s home from the hospital already!”
The mother of two cried. And Gus pushed her to do a donor drive in Sullivan County so he could become a donor too.
She’s working on it now, but until it can all be pulled together she’s simply making the rounds in the community encouraging people to donate.
What Metzinger has done isn’t a miracle, she says, it’s only given her the chance to help make a difference in more people’s lives.
“People say ‘you saved a life,’ but firemen do that every day,” Metzinger said.
You don’t have to wait for a bone marrow drive. Contact DKMS Americas for a free swab kit to become a donor today: or 866-340-DKMS (3567)

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