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Siblings inspire blood drive

By JEANIE SCOTT

Contributor

It was 10-year-old Max Chebab’s donation of his bone marrow to his 9-year-old sister, Sydney, who is battling leukemia, that spurred The Gillispie School to organize a Blood and Bone Marrow Registry Drive for March 15.

Both Sydney and Max are students at the school. Sydney was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5 and had been in remission until September 2009, when the cancer was found to have returned. It was determined that a bone marrow transplant was the best treatment option, and her older brother turned out to be a perfect match. Sydney immediately began treatment, and the transplant took place in late December.

Max returned to school shortly after the transplant, while Sydney is still hospitalized. She participates in classroom discussions through Skype and is not only current on her studies but well ahead of her class. Gillispie students have made cards, puzzles, games, and created math and language arts problems to help keep Sydney entertained during her recovery.

Since being diagnosed with leukemia, Sydney has received more than 30 blood donations. To support the family and others in need of blood, the school is encouraging the public to participate. Blood donors who participate in The Gillispie School event can also choose to register their bone marrow in the Bone Marrow Registry by providing a simple cheek swab.

Erica Hurley, one of the teachers who helped organize the event, said: “The Gillispie staff and families wanted to show support to Sydney, Max and their parents and loved ones. After much thought, it was decided to ‘pay it forward’ by hosting the blood drive and adding potential bone marrow donors to the registry with the hope that other patients will have every opportunity for treatment.”

Hurley added that there has been tremendous support by other La Jolla schools that have volunteered to help publicize the event.

If you would like to participate in The Gillispie School Blood and Bone Marrow Registry Drive, call the school at (858) 459-3773 to schedule an appointment or come to the school at 7380 Girard Ave. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 15.