Each year, nearly 3,000 Americans die because they cannot find a matching bone marrow donor, but to lessen these tragedies, BeTheMatch works continuously to find non-blood related donors to save lives. Thanks to their innovative technology, one Texoma teacher was able to make a difference in one little boy’s life many miles away.
Jennifer Hawkins, a second grade teacher in Burkburnett gave the ultimate gift to Dax Schieffer, 7, and just last weekend, the two met for the first time in Montana.
Since birth, Dax Schieffer of Montana has had a medically complicated life and at just 3-years-old, his parents were told he was in bone marrow failure.
“It was connected to a genetic condition and it was something they wouldn’t have tested for, it is an incredibly rare condition, it’s called Dyskeratosis Congenita,” Dax’s dad Dax Schieffer said.
It was then that the Scheiffers learned that Dax would need a bone marrow transplant to improve his condition.
About 70% of the time patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family and that is why John Tower Elementary School second grade teacher Jennifer Hawkins came in.
“Pretty quickly once he was on track they shared with us that we had some matches,” Dax’s dad Dax Schieffer said.
“When I received the call she asked if I was still interested and still willing to proceed with the donation,” Hawkins said. “It was never a question of should I do this, it was this child needs something that I can provide.”
Hawkins joined the Bone Marrow Donor Registry in April 2016, while her sister was battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and she had a student with Cancer.
While only anonymous communication through a third party was initially allowed, once they got the chance, the Schieffers arranged for Dax to meet his donor.
“It was just a true blessing because seeing how well he is doing and seeing him get to be a seven-year-old boy, it brings me to tears every time I think about it,” Hawkins said.
“My wife and I just wanted to show appreciation and have her meet us in Montana and so that is what we did,” Schieffer said.
Hawkins and Schieffer said they hope this experience will encourage others to join the registry, so they too can help save a life.
At any given time, about 7,500 Americans are actively searching the national registry for an unrelated donor.
If you want more information on how you can join the registry, follow this link.
For more details on Dax’s story, follow this link.