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Feb. 17, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 11

BC Family in Need of Donor Reaches Out to Campus

A bone-marrow drive is to be held in Gasson Hall from 2-7 p.m. on Feb. 28 in the hope of finding a donor for a nine-year-old Maine boy from a Boston College family who is waging a courageous battle against leukemia.

The boy, Elijah Norbert, is the son of Stephen '84 and Kim Norbert of Portland, and the nephew of Mary '81, Karen '84, Maggie '92, Chris '79 and Paula Norbert, a former longtime chaplain in the Campus Ministry Office at Boston College.

Elijah was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of six and has borne the fight against the disease with inspiring bravery and grace, family members say. Unfortunately, a transplant using the marrow of his 12-year-old sister this past year failed, and the boy has undergone a new round of harsh chemotherapy treatments while his family has searched for another marrow donor.

"Elijah has spent one-third of his life battling leukemia," his aunt, Karen Norbert Sprague, writes in an appeal to the Boston College community. "He has already endured, in his short life, more than most of us will endure in a lifetime on this earth. And without complaint. I do not exaggerate.

"Elijah was first diagnosed with leukemia two days prior to starting kindergarten. He had just celebrated his sixth birthday when things began to go wrong. On 9/11, when the planes hit the Twin Towers, devastation also hit our family with the fateful news that our Elijah had leukemia. Thus began Elijah's battle.

"Please help us find a match for Elijah. Words cannot begin to express how precious he is. Already, at the young age of nine, it overwhelms those of us who know him intimately how much love he could bring to this world and how much good he could do - if he is just given the chance to reach his potential.

"That is our prayer to God. Just give him the chance."

[The entire letter may be read online at www.bc.edu/bc_org/rvp/pubaf/05/elijah-letter.html].

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60, and in good general health, is eligible to be a bone marrow donor. The initial test consists of a simple blood draw from the arm and will place the potential donor on the national list for bone marrow donors for any person in the United States who is currently or may in the future be in need of a bone marrow transplant.

The cost of the procedure will be covered for the first 30 registrants by the National Marrow Donor Program. Any persons of color will be tested for free because of a great need for possible matches.

Other donors will be asked to pay a $25 for testing, but all insurance providers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are required by law to cover the cost of the testing. A receipt will be provided that can be submitted to the insurance company for reimbursement.

Ellen Westley '08, Paula Norbert's stepdaughter, is a member of the BC Emerging Leader Program that is sponsoring the campus drive to sign up potential donors for the National Marrow Donor Registry. She may be reached for information on the drive at (617) 656-9796. -Mark Sullivan

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