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>A Serious Post

24 July 2010

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I am rarely serious here on RWD, but right now I’ve got to be.

I just learned (and I mean FIVE MINUTES AGO) tUMD equipment manager Chris Garner has been battling a disease called Myelodysplatic Syndrome. If you are not Dr. House (and none of us are), it is a blood/bone marrow disease. According to the National Cancer Insititute,

Myelodysplastic syndromes are diseases of the bloodbone marrow. Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that develop into mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. The lymphoid stem cell develops into a white blood cell. The myeloid stem cell develops into one of three types of mature blood cells: Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body; white blood cells that fight infection and disease; and platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
In myelodysplastic syndromes, the blood stem cells do not mature into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. The immature blood cells, called blasts, do not function normally and either die in the bone marrow or soon after they enter the blood. This leaves less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets to develop in the bone marrow. When there are fewer blood cells, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.

There is a Facebook page set up for more information, but if you’re not on the Facebook or the link doesn’t work or something, I’m going to re-post some of the information here, written by friends of his. Please check the Facebook page for contact information; I’m not posting someone’s phone number or address here on RWD.

Chris was diagnosed with [MDS] earlier this year and is currently awaiting a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant. If Chris does not receive a bone marrow transplant, the risk of his current bone marrow transitioning into AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia) would be extremely high. His medical team feels the transplant is needed and can possibly prolong his life.

A donor match for Chris was found in June of 2010. Chris will begin the transplant process at the Mayo Clinic in early August of 2010. Before the actual bone marrow transplant, Chris will undergo large doses of chemotherapy to destroy the abnormal cells currently in his bone marrow. The prognosis for Chris is unknown. Every patient responds differently to a transplant. We hope and pray for a perfect case scenario in which Chris’s body will respond perfectly to the treatment and transplant.

When Chris recovers from the treatment he will then work his way back to the hockey arena where he is an equipment manager for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog Men’s Hockey Team. Chris has had a lifelong love of the sport of hockey. He has been around the game, both playing and working, all his life. He has been an equipment manager at the professional and college level for over 13 years. This disease is prohibiting Chris from working and being around the game because of the treatment and his low immune system (caused by MDS) which cannot fight the germs and bacteria that are common in the hockey arena.

The bone marrow transplant is a very expensive procedure. Chris was told he will bare some of the medical costs associated with the procedure along with the additional costs of relocating to Rochester, MN for the treatment until he gets the okay to begin work and move back home to Duluth, MN.

Your help and support is greatly needed. Costs for this procedure are extremely high and not completely covered by insurance. In an effort to alleviate Chris’ expenses, we are hosting an online auction and are asking for either a cash donation or a donated item to be auctioned. We are in the process of collecting donations and anticipate the online auction in early fall of 2010.

All proceeds will be used to help defray medical and living expenses while Chris receives treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Please note that donations are not tax-deductible.

Chris has kept skates sharp and sticks taped for the Dogs (and this is an oversimplification of all that he does for the team), and he also got us lucky folks the opportunity to buy the bee jerseys last February. I’ll keep you folks updated on news about the auction (dates, items, etc), and if you are inclined to make a donation of money or auctionable items, check out the Facebook page for contact information. It seems as though Chris will be missing at least part of the season while he is recovering.

Chris, I wish you the best of treatment and the fastest of recoveries!

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