Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day for Living Heroes

Memorial Day is dedicated to the heroes of the American military who gave their lives in defense of our nation. But not all heroes die in wars.

The heroes I want to tell you about are the men and women who get a simple blood test to be a bone marrow donor. In Elyria, Ohio there lives such a man who made that decision and whose name was registered with the National Marrow Donor Program. One day in the spring of 2000, he got a call. He was a perfect match for a young man—he didn’t know where or who, because of confidentiality policies—who needed a bone marrow transplant to be healed of aplastic anemia, a life-threatening blood disease. For two years, this 19-year-old had been dependent on blood and platelet transfusions several times a week, plus lots of antibiotics and even more prayers, for survival. He had endured two rounds of immunosuppressive therapy and several modalities of alternative treatment, but nothing had worked. Now a transplant was his only hope for a future.

Heaven was smiling on my son, because a 36-year-old ex-Marine was not only willing to put his life on the line for our entire nation, but also ready to do what was necessary to save the life of just one person, a stranger whom he had never met. On May 31, 2000, two nurses with three big bags of creamy red marrow walked into Jared’s room at City of Hope in southern California, and my son got a reprieve from his death sentence. His body soon began producing its own blood. Five months later he was back in the saddle of his beloved Kawasaki 250 dirt bike, doing things that only those with Y chromosomes understand. Though still under a doctor’s watchful eye for another two years, Jared has his life back. He’s going to make it, thanks to our hero who is one of Ohio’s own, Doug Doss.

Heroes are often acknowledged with ribbons and medals in remembrance of their brave deeds. Where could his father and I find one big enough to say “Thank You” for the gift of life to our son? A grateful heart full of thanks is the only medal we have to offer, and not just once, but every day that we are blessed to be with him. Thanks, Doug. Love you and still thanking God for your courage and generosity.

Donna Voetee, Jared's Mom

P.S. Jared is 28 years old now [update, this is 2016 and he is 35 years old], healthy and vibrant. He only takes natural supplements, he works out regularly, and he definitely avoids vaccines, Goof-Off and other benzene products.