It’s the turnout that every parent dreams of while going through a situation every parent fears.
After only a year of studying at a medical college in San Diego, Fox Point native Jacob Adashek learned in May that he has leukemia. Though he is in remission, he’ll need a bone marrow transplant to help fight the disease.
Finding a compatible donor is not easy, but Jacob's friends, family and community members have gotten behind the effort in a way that the Blood Center of Wisconsin describes as very unique. They’ve literally started a social-media fueled frenzy that boasts a Facebook following of over 500 people, all dedicated to finding a bone marrow match.
“The Facebook group grew to over 500 members in just a few days,” said Jacob's mother, Debbie Adashek. “The support and caring he has experienced has been overwhelming and heartwarming.”
Jacob’s sister, Amy Adashek, and Jacob’s longtime friend, Jake Levey, have been at the heart of this campaign, recruiting people to find if they are a possible match with an easy test. Via Facebook, email and even user-submitted stories to online news outlets, the two have encouraged people to get themselves on the National Bone Marrow Registry.
A Simple Mouth Swab Test
It instructs people interested in helping to go to www.Marrow.org where they’ll find a mail-in test. People simply swab the inside of their mouth and send the pre-paid envelope back to be put in the registry, and hopefully be a match for Jacob.
Now the Facebook group is overflowing with comments like, “Just did my cheek swab!” and “Just mailed mine and 4 others today!” Despite their age, Jacob’s former Nicolet High School classmates have stepped up to see if they’re a match for the donation procedure.
“What’s really cool is our high school class was really close,” said Levey. “We functioned as one whole and we cared about each and every one of us. The grade really stuck together like one big family.”
Matching Up With Anyone
Although a remarkable amount of people have sent in their compatibility test, only one in every 540 members of their registry in the United States go on to donate bone marrow, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.
But while those interested in helping Jacob know that while they might not be a match for him, they could be a match for another person in need. Once a person registers on the National Bone Marrow Registry, they could potentially save someone else’s life.
“A few thousand people have been swabbed and there are more swab events planned, which will hopefully benefit others in need of a bone marrow transplant as well,” said Debbie Adashek.
Nancy Barnett, a family friend and oncology clinical specialist, knows what it means to be put on the registry. She said she’s been part of the procedure from a nurse’s point of view many times, and while she’s trying to help Jacob, many others may benefit from this fight.
“I was swabbed years ago because I’m a nurse and I believe in this,” said Barnett. “I swabbed again just in case. I did it years ago because I didn’t care who I was going to help, but now this has happened, so I’m trying to step up.”
As the past president of Congregation Shalom and a board member at the Jewish Community Center, Barnett has been a huge supporter of the Facebook group, sent out mass emails and began organizing swab events. She says she’s known the Adasheks for years, but it wasn’t until Jacob’s diagnosis that they’ve gotten close.
The same is true for community member Kelly Arnold. She explained while the Adasheks lived next door to her husband’s family for years, she’s only met Jacob a few times. That, however, didn’t stop her from getting registered.
“I can't help but put myself in his family's shoes,” Arnold said. “If my husband or son had this same diagnosis, I would be fighting as hard as possible for as long as possible until I'd found a match for them. If I am a match, I wouldn't hesitate to donate marrow … I hope that I am Jacob’s match.”
The Blood Center of Wisconsin says the procedure itself is painless because it’s performed under anesthesia. However, for an average of two weeks after the procedure, most donors have sore hips because the marrow is taken from the hip bones. Regardless, the Blood Center says many patients are willing to do it again, and that people say it’s a positive experience.
If you’re interested in getting tested to be registered as a potential bone marrow donor, visit www.Marrow.org.
You can also become a member of the “HELP JACOB” Facebook group to keep up to date on his status and upcoming registration drives.