Living near Philadelphia has afforded Andrea Bozzi the opportunity to have three physician teams at three universities working together on her case. She was accepted into a clinical trial at The University of Pennsylvania for a drug that's specific to her type of leukemia.
"I don't know that I've ever seen that level of cooperation between universities and physicians," Bozzi said.
She and her doctors at Temple-Fox Chase, The University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson University are working to "figure out the best option" for her.
They also embarked on a journey to find other possible matches. In October, they learned that 17 people throughout the world were potential matches.
"Five didn't want to participate and seven were disqualified (after) blood work, so that's five potential matches," Bozzi said.
Donating bone marrow is a bit more complicated than donating blood, but anyone can join the registry of donors.
"It costs nothing to register," said Dr. Edward Gorak, co-director of Geisinger Health System's bone marrow transplant program.
Geisinger is part of the National Marrow Donor Program, which covers the costs for lab tests and database maintenance.
"If you are called to donate, you will not pay medical fees," Gorak said.
The procedure begins with a simple swab of DNA. Further testing helps doctors determine whether a person is a good match for someone who needs a transplant.
People between ages 18 and 44 tend to provide the best matches. Young men, especially athletes, have marrow that can withstand a graft better, Bozzi said.
"One person literally can save another person's life," she said.
To register as a potential bone marrow donor, visit the National Marrow Donor Program's website at marrow.org or call (800) 627-7692.
Recruitment drives also are held on occasion. Upcoming ones in Pennsylvania include:
Jan. 6 - Gravel Hill United Methodist Church, 131 Gravel Hill Road, Palmyra. Call for time, (267) 670-0339.
Jan. 8 - Lice Lifters of Chadds Ford, 1410 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 3 to 7 p.m. For information, call (610) 558-1434.