Amy Katz will start seventh
grade Tuesday at Jefferson Middle School in Mt. Lebanon.
She plays soccer and does the things 12-year-old girls do.
And a year after being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous
leukemia, she is still waiting for a bone marrow transplant
needed to vanquish the disease.
"We're still searching for the donor," said Amy's mother,
Amy was diagnosed after knee soreness that wouldn't go
away. She is on a drug regimen that has beaten back the
disease, but the only known cure is a transplant.
Although previous searches have focused around the Mt.
Lebanon area and the Katzes' Jewish faith community, it's now
taking on a regional, if not national scope.
Next month, there will be a marrow drive by Amy's Army at
the U.S. Steel Building on Grant Street, Downtown. Gift of
Life, a registry for potential bone marrow donors of Jewish
descent, will also have bone marrow drives in the Philadelphia
area, North Carolina and suburban Washington, D.C., over the
next two months.
Lisa Katz said that racial or ethnic similarities can make
matches more likely.
When Amy was diagnosed, her sisters -- younger Katie and
older Jenny -- were tested as potential donors. They matched
each other, but not Amy.
No one in Amy's family matched Amy's tissue type.
The drives try to find a match for Amy, but also register
potential donors for other people who might need marrow
The tests are simple -- a pinprick for a drop of blood,
said Charles Ferrara, of Fox Chapel, managing partner for
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. In fact, he described
donating bone marrow as a simple procedure involving local
anesthetic and a needle inserted into one's hipbone to remove
Ferrara used to work with Amy's father, Michael, and heard
about Amy's plight.
"The minute you start talking about a kid in trouble,
everyone says, 'Well, what can we do?'"
Ferrara hopes to see 3,000 people at the drive, tentatively
scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20.
There are more than 12,000 people who work at the U.S.
Steel Building, he said. "We'll probably have contests
throughout the building."
Gift of Life will hold the marrow drives in Cherry Hill,
N.J., Rockville, Md., and Cary, N.C. Although not associated
with Amy's Army, they are fighting for the same cause.
"Amy has sort of become their poster child," Lisa Katz
In two marrow drives this year for Amy's Army, 13
preliminary matches for other cases were found. Since then,
six have been disqualified for one reason or another, Lisa
She's glad some good has come of this -- even if Amy's not
"Whether it's my child or someone else's, it's an amazing
feeling," she said.
Vince Guerrieri can be reached at email@example.com
or (412) 380-5607.