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Local Doctor Inspires Bone Marrow Drive

September 14, 2012, 4:59 PM by Brady Mallory

Local Doctor Inspires Bone Marrow Drive
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

There are thousands of reason for not wanting to visit the doctor.  If you were at the Be The Match Donor Drive in Sioux Falls, you would not have heard any of those reasons.

"What all is this? About 40 seconds to swab your mouth?  It's not difficult to do," Megan Maddox said.

In this case a doctor, Dr. Tom Braithwaite, is the reason for this visit.

"He's just an advocate for his patients and our facility.  This is just a privilege to do it in his honor," Maddox said.

Only nine years ago, Braithwaite found himself on the other end of the stethoscope when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  After repeated chemotherapy treatments, he was in remission.  At the time, he thought he had beaten the disease.  His cancer came back four years ago and then again two years later.  Cut to the present, high dosages of chemo have essentially destroyed his bone marrow, giving him a disease called Myodisplastic Syndrome. 

The swabs with Maddox's DNA will put her on the National Marrow Donor Registry.  Help for Braithwaite, who needs a bone marrow transplant, is not likely to be found in Maddox or any of his friends who have come here to show their support.  Sanford's Be The Match Donor Drive, held at Sanford Health and the Ramkota in Sioux Falls, could make all the difference for a stranger on the other side of the world.  More than 200 people showed up to register.  You can still become a bone marrow donor in Braithwaite's honor or anyone's honor.

"The bigger the pool there is to draw from, the better it is for all of those in need of transplants.  You never know how much of a match you'll be for someone in need," co-organizer Marie Remmers said.

There are millions of people on the registry, but only thousands of people ever find a full match.

"Wouldn't it be a great opportunity if you were the person who was able to help provide that great news to someone?  To know someone is willing to donate and somebody else is going to receive an outstanding phone call to say, 'Here's an opportunity for a longer life,'" Maddox said.

Good news can come in small packages, like a telephone call.  In Braithwaite's case, it came via text message. 

"I got a great birthday present," Tom's sister, Mindy Braithwaite, said about the text message she received.  "It was (about) Tom finding out he has one 10/10 match and a second very good chance that it is a 10/10."

The match is 24-year-old woman, and the secondary match is a 30-year-old guy.  It is a big relief for the Braithwaite family, who have been waiting for this good news for a while.  Now the hope is another brother, father, sister, daughter, mother, son, etc., will get good news of their own.  

Braithwaite's matches are not from Sioux Falls, but somewhere else in the United States.  All because someone, somewhere found a reason to visit the doctor.

"This is humanity at work right here.  It's a great feeling and it brings joy," Remmers said.

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