Hoping for the
By Kitty Lagorio
Most 11 year olds have concerns and issues around family, friends and
Amy Katz of Mt. Lebanon is like those kids. She wants to hit
the right notes on her trumpet, she wants to do well in school and she
wants to play soccer. She wants to tease and love her sisters Jenny, 13,
and Katie, 8.
But last fall, Amy had knee pain. The doctors didn’t
find anything at first, but a third visit to the orthopedic doctor ended
up in a hurried trip to Children Hospital’s emergency room. There,
Michael Katz and his daughter were met by an oncologist and
Amy didn’t have growing pains. Amy is waging a
colossal battle against chronic myelogenous leukemia. She even has an
‘Amy’s Army’ of friends and neighbors working for her.
She has the
latest chemotherapy but still, she needs more. She needs the right donor
to provide the stem cells that could save her life. According to her
mom, Lisa Katz, “Amy is responding well to Gleevec. It’s chemo given
orally. Most chemotherapy attacks fast-growing cells, like hair cells,
but this only attacks abnormal fast-growing cells.”
So Amy still has
her hair. The problem is the promise of the drug is just that, a
promise, not a certainty.
“The reason she needs the stem cell
transplant is because she has an adult form of leukemia,” Mrs. Katz
explained. “While initial results look good, they don’t know for
certain. But what they do know is that bone marrow is a cure for her
type of cancer.”
That’s why a drive is being held for potential
donors. What the screeners are looking for is a tissue match. To find
out if someone is a potential donor only a small amount of blood is
For those who prefer not to give blood, a cheek-swab kit
can be requested. The sample will be analyzed. The lab will be looking
for the Human Leukocyte Antigen Tissue Type. If there’s a match, that
person will be contacted.
If someone is asked to donate, it won’t
cost money, just a little marrow. The procedure takes between 45 to 90
minutes. A donor should be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good
health. Blood type doesn’t matter and a person can donate even if
they’ve been prevented from giving in the past.
Lisa Katz would like
people to think about this, “3,000 people a day search for a bone marrow
Thirty percent of those searching will find a match in their
family. The other 70 percent must depend on the kindness of strangers. A
stranger could save Amy’s life.”
For more information about Amy and
Amy’s Army, go to www.amysarmy.org. If you aren’t able to attend on the
day of the drive, there are other ways of helping listed at the
Amy’s Donor Recruitment Drive
• Sunday, Feb. 29
• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Temple Emanuel of
1250 Bower Hill Road, Mt. Lebanon
If you are between 18 and 60 and in good
you can be a donor.
• Donors give only a small blood sample that
will be tested for tissue type.
• Blood type
• For information, call 1-877-Aid-4-Amy.