Blood, marrow drive helps family

NASHUA – Robert Dawe was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma six years ago. After undergoing extensive chemotherapy treatments to cure that cancer, he developed a second kind – leukemia.

Now, Dawe needs a bone marrow transplant to survive, but none of his five children or the 5 million people listed on the national bone marrow registry is a match.

His family hopes someone in the Nashua area will be.

The Dawes are holding a bone marrow and blood drive Sunday at Bicentennial Elementary School from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to find a match for their father. The drive, hosted by the American Red Cross of New Hampshire, is also intended to raise general awareness about the need for donors.

Dawe, 64, is a former Nashua fire commissioner, and his wife, Eileen, 62, was a state representative until he became sick. The couple raised all of their children in Nashua.

Anyone in good health between the ages of 18 and 60 can join the national bone marrow registry. The family asks that participants get a good night’s rest, eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids before the drive.

With the help of corporate sponsors, the Dawes have raised enough money to pay for at least 400 people to be tested and added to the registry.

If a match who is willing to donate his or her bone marrow is located, the family will also pay the cost of the procedure.

The registration process is simple. It involves watching a short video, filling out a consent form and short health questionnaire, and giving a small blood sample.

“It’s single-handedly one of the easiest ways that you can volunteer,” said Dayna Bergin, Red Cross donor recruitment specialist. “Come in, be tested, and you’re in the registry.”

Those who complete the process will be contacted if their bone marrow is a match for someone in need of a transplant, which is rare. The chances of finding a match are fewer than one in 20,000.

If contacted, the person listed on the registry can choose whether he or she wants to undergo the outpatient procedure required to donate bone marrow.

Dawe’s daughter, Trish Beaulieu, is hopeful that the drive will produce a match for her father. She said not being able to find one has been difficult for the family because they want to help their father and haven’t been able to.

“It’s a feeling of hopelessness,” Beaulieu said.

She added that even if the drive doesn’t yield a match for her father, the family hopes it will benefit one of the other 30,000 people in need of a transplant.

“We’re trying to make this ugly thing (cancer) into something that will help people,” Beaulieu said.