A little help from his friends

PHIL RIDDLE phil.riddle@empiretribune.com Twitter @ETSports
Jayd Bivins and his wife Jacee have been married for about two years, half of which he has been battling cancer. His friends, former Tarleton State track athlete Aaron Donahue, and current centerfielder for the TexAnn's softball team Melody Mayse, have organized a bone marrow drive to find matches for Bivins' anticipated transplant.

One former Tarleton athlete and another that currently competes for the Purple and White have taken it upon themselves to help an ailing friend.

Aaron Donahue, a 2014 TSU graduate who ran track for four years and his girlfriend, centerfielder for the TexAnns, Melody Mayse, have joined forces and planned a bone marrow drive to help another former TSU student, Jayd Bivins who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I met Jayd at Tarleton where he was also a student,” Donahue recounted. “We met through a campus organization called College Life. We got in a small group together and became very close friends.

“He got married to his wife Jacee about two years ago and about a year after they got married, he was diagnosed with cancer.”

According to Donahue, doctors called it Ewing’s Sarcoma, though the cancer was not an exact match for that particular strain of the disease.

“That was the closest cancer to what he had that was known,” Aaron said. “He fought that for about a year with different treatments, and he went into a remission state. Within a few months of being cancer free, he began experiencing similar pain symptoms as before and after another lengthy test process was diagnosed with A.L.L.”

Bivins is reportedly successfully undergoing chemotherapy treatments and is nearing another remission. When that occurs, doctors want to perform a bone marrow transplant.

That will require volunteer donors.

“What we’re doing is trying to get people to be bone marrow donors,” Donahue explained. “You don’t necessarily donate just for Jayd. You get your cheek swabbed and the information is put into a bone marrow database and at any given time you could be called upon to donate a pint of blood for a bone marrow transplant.

“The idea is to find a match for Jayd, but a secondary positive would be helping someone else by finding a match.”

For most people, about 85 percent Donahue reported, the donation is a pint of blood.

“The bone marrow donor drive we are putting on is through the organization "Be The Match Registry", a National Marrow Donor Program,” Donahue said.

According to the organization’s Web site, bethematch.org, most donors will receive injections to increase the number of blood-forming cells in their bloodstream and afterward will only need to donate blood.

For the other 15 percent, traditional bon marrow extraction under anesthesia is required.

The marrow screening drive set up for April 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Tarleton Student Center on the second floor next to the Career Services Center.

Prospective donors n that day with fill out paperwork, mainly about medical history, and get a DNA cheek swab.

“Once matches are confirmed through Be The Match, You can get called to donate for anyone across the nation at any time. It’s a commitment when you say you’ll donate bone marrow,” Donahue said.