Save a life by swabbing your cheek

You may be able to help someone live by donating your bone marrow. All it takes to be put on the registry a swab of the cheek.

I got the opportunity of a lifetime to work with such an amazing organization called Project Life Movement, a national movement to increase the potential pool of bone marrow and tissue donors with just a simple cheek swab. I found out about this organization by reading the local newspaper and I knew I had to contact the person in charge. David Lindsay, the founder of Project Life, had leukemia and had his sister donate bone marrow to him. Now, he is cancer free and has been for over 20 years.

Cohn poses with Project Life founder and Carolina Panthers player Luke Kuechly.Alexis Cohn | The Queens Chronicle

Cohn poses with Project Life founder and Carolina Panthers player Luke Kuechly.

You’re probably thinking, “Why does this mean so much to me?” My older brother, Daniel, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia T-Cell (ALL) in 1999, at just 8 years old. T-cells usually are very helpful in fighting an infection, but in Daniel’s case, they were much harder to kill in the body because they contained cancer cells. With Daniel having cancer, he was in need of a bone marrow donor, and I was a perfect match.

Keep in mind I was only 6 years old.

The process of donating consisted of being placed under general anesthesia and large needles being pushed into the back of my hipbone. I was of course proud to be able to have helped save my brothers life. I was sore for a couple of days, but then back to tumbling and cheering.

Unfortunately, Daniel’s cancer came back and he became very ill. He passed away on Feb. 19, 2002, two days after his birthday. You may be thinking that donating bone marrow is a hopeless cause, but if Daniel did not receive my marrow, he would not have survived his two-year ordeal. The fact that I got to spend about three more months with him after I donated was just amazing. I cherish every moment I had with him, and I know he is watching down on me so proud of all of my accomplishments, including working with the Project Life Movement.

I found something a poem recently in a box of Daniel’s stuff. It made me cry, but not a sad cry; it was a happy cry. The poem read: “I have Leukemia, a type of disease. I can’t be near others who have a cough or a sneeze. My sister Alexis gave me her marrow, and now she is my superhero!!!” The fact he called me his super hero is just speechless; who could have thought someone could be a superhero at age 6?

Cohn's brother, Daniel, survived longer because she donated bone marrow to him.Alexis Cohn | The Queens Chronicle

Cohn’s brother, Daniel, survived longer because she donated bone marrow to him.

I got the pleasure to meet the ambassador of Project Life Movement, Carolina Panthers player and defensive player of the year Luke Kuechly, and even have a photo shoot with him. He is a great guy and going to do amazing things with Project Life.

Project Life Movement will come to Queens to swab people on April 11 at the Spring Carnival from noon-4 p.m. All it takes is 10 minutes of your time, so get on the list!

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.