A bone marrow drive is being conducted Sunday at Winchester restaurant
By Kim Walter
Anyone and everyone who can participate is invited to a bone marrow drive on Sunday at the Union Jack Pub and Restaurant in Winchester to help 26-year-old Emily Lloyd.
Lloyd, a Frederick County native, was recently diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease that is quickly developing into acute leukemia. She is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the National Institute of Health in Maryland, but said a bone marrow transplant is her "best chance at survival."
In mid-February, the young mother and wife decided to get some blood work done after she had been getting sick time and time again.
"The blood tests came back, and there were cancer cells ... obviously the doctors said they weren't supposed to be there," Lloyd said Thursday during a phone interview. "There were more cancer cells in my bone marrow, so from there it wasn't really a question of whether or not I would get leukemia."
Lloyd said that for years she has had health issues that include an underlying condition, MonoMAC, which is a glitch in her genetics that weakens her immune system.
"Since it's in my DNA, I really just need the transplant," she said.
So far, the chemo has been "rough," and Lloyd just recently decided to shave her head to avoid the process of her hair falling it. She said it would happen soon anyway.
Her family and friends worried that Lloyd's 2-year-old daughter Atalie would react negatively to her mother's changed physical appearance. However, Lloyd said the little girl just rubbed her head and acted as if "it was nothing."
Atalie is no stranger to hospitals. She was born when Lloyd was just under 24 weeks pregnant. Atalie was in and out of supervised care for months following her birth and she faced a number of breathing and feeding issues.
"But now - she's two, she just turned two last month on the day I started chemo - she's awesome, smart and just a happy little girl," Lloyd said. "She's actually developed really well."
Mandy Loy, who works with Lloyd's husband Shane at the Union Jack said she felt that something had to be done to help the family that had already been through so much.
"Both Shane and Emily's families are just great people, and they've gone from being busy with one thing to another," Loy said on Thursday. "With the baby and her complications, and now Emily ... they deserve a break."
Loy decided to organize the bone marrow drive on Sunday. It will take place at the restaurant from noon to 5 p.m.
She said healthy individuals aged 18 to 60 are invited to stop by and take a simple test - a mouth swab - so that a perfect match might be found for Lloyd. The test kits cost $60 a piece, so people may choose to donate funds so that others might be able to take the test if they can't. Others can also order a test, take it at home, and send it in themselves before or after Sunday's event.
Loy added that people with an Italian heritage are "more likely" to be a match for Lloyd. She also said that even if a participant isn't a match for Lloyd, their results can be added to a registry for other people looking for a bone marrow transplant.
So far, about 300 people have RSVP'd to the Facebook event, and Loy said 800 kits have been purchased.
"It's been amazing to see people in this area come together for Emily," she said. "I mean, people who she doesn't know and know nothing about her besides the fact that she's sick ... I'm thankful for all the support we've received."
Lloyd said she's hopeful that someone will wind up being a "10 out of 10 perfect match," though an eight or nine out of 10 could suffice. She said there are other options if a match isn't found, but the outcome isn't likely to be as successful.
Doctors would like to do a transplant in a little over two months, so Lloyd said there's definitely more time for people to submit a test.
"All of this has happened so fast, but we're dealing with it," she said. "Every time I check the event page, I can't believe all the support that people are giving me. It makes me hope even more that this will all work out."
For more information on the event, go to the "Bone Marrow Drive for Emily Jerome Lloyd" Facebook page. Individuals can also check out www.giftoflife.org to register online.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org