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Eagle project to scout out bone marrow donors

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Flower Mound High School freshman Jonathan Provost has taken on an Eagle Scout Project that is very close to his heart.

Provost is coordinating a Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive in response to losing someone close to him.

“My cousin came up with the idea when I asked how I could help him, so I decided to do a stem cell drive,” Provost said.

Provost’s cousin, Matt Zieman, was 24-years old when he died from Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL), and the Flower Mound teen said that event had a profound effect on his life.

“It affected me enough to where I wanted to save other people who have this disease,” Provost said. “His age group is hard to cure. Most patients who get ALL are older or younger. Research is still needed to find out why this is happening.”

Provost said he has a couple of goals for the project.

“I would like to swab 100 or more people and register them with Be The Match organization,” Provost said. “Also, I would like to make people aware of how simple the process can be.  Just swab your cheek, after filling out a little paperwork. 

“It is sent to a lab and registry for anyone needing your stem cells.  When the cancer patient receives the matching stem cells, about a quarter of a cup, the patient’s own body will build new stem cells of their own.”

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, doctors look for a donor who matches their patient’s tissue type, specifically their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) tissue type. HLAs are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body. Your immune system uses these markers to recognize which cells belong in your body and which do not. The closer the match between the patient’s HLA markers and yours, the better for the patient.

On average, one in every 540 members of Be The Match Registry in the United States will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a patient.

There are a couple of ways that people can help if they are interested in participating in the project.

“On June 9th, go to my stem cell drive and get your cheek swabbed to see if you could save someone’s life by your DNA matching theirs, or, donate money to Be The Match,” Provost said.

“Each swab kit and lab work is about $100 to process.  Research also costs money.  Research is needed to find out why so many leukemia patients in their early 20’s die and are not cured like small children.”

Provost said he hopes people take away a few things from his project.

“I would like for people to feel that we are a community that helps each other,” Provost said. “As we all helped support Paige Boutilier (a 7-year old ALL patient that lives in Flower Mound), I hope everyone remembers there is something each of us can do.

“There are many service projects that Eagle Scouts can do, but not many that could potentially save lives.  When I get older, I will be proud to say this was my project to become an Eagle.”

The drive will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at the office of Brad Duren Dentistry, 4030 Justin Rd., Suite 102, in Flower Mound.

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