By Jeanie Scott
ContributorGail Chehab, right, with her daughter Sydney on an ice-skating outing.
Just one year ago, Gail Chehab was watching her daughter Sydney undergo aggressive medical treatment due to a leukemia relapse. She could never have imagined that just 12 months later Sydney would again be cancer free and they’d be enjoying an afternoon of ice skating together.
Sydney’s remarkable recovery is the inspiration for the second annual Blood and Bone Marrow Drive at The Gillispie School, to be held on from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 16. Last year, the teachers and administrative staff of the small school were eager to show support for the Chehab family, where both their children were students.
Chehab explained the importance of blood and bone marrow donors for the treatment of cancer patients. Her 10- year-old daughter had had over 30 blood transfusions. Sydney’s best hope for recovery was a bone marrow transplant. A sibling donor would be the best option. But if Max, Sydney’s older brother was not a perfect match, the doctors would search the National Bone Marrow Registry for a donor, she was told. Yet with only a 25 percent likelihood of success, Max was a perfect match.
The La Jolla community generously came out to support last year’s drive, donating more than 50 pints of blood and adding 30 names to the bone marrow registry.
“Blood is so precious that I’ve heard some cancer patients call it ‘red gold,” Chehab said.
This year’s Blood and Bone Marrow Drive will be a celebration of Sydney’s recovery. The Chehab family hopes The Gillispie School can double the number of blood donations and bone marrow registrations.
In 2010, there were 1,529,560 cases of newly- diagnosed cancer in the United States. Many of these victims will need blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant.
Advance donor appointments can be made by calling The Gillispie School at (858) 459-3773. Walk-in appointments are welcome The Gillispie School is at 7380 Girard Ave.