Monday, November 21, 2005

Airman’s Bone Marrow Helps Save Baby Girl

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Marilyn Kott
Airman’s Bone Marrow Helps Save Baby Girl

By Capt. Ryan Norman 572nd Global Mobility Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Nov. 21, 2005 — More than a decade ago, then Capt. Marilyn Kott spent a few extra minutes at the end of a mobility processing line to learn about a program that matches Air Force volunteers with persons who need bone marrow transplants.

Three assignments went by and her life went on as usual. Then one day this summer she received a phone call informing her that she was a possible match for 4-month-old baby that needed a bone marrow transplant.

“I almost forgot I had even signed up for the program,” said Kott, a lieutenant colonel with the 572nd Global Mobility Readiness Squadron commander.

A representative from the C.W. Bill Young Donor Center in Kensington, Md., guided Kott through the long process to determine if she was an ideal match.

The Department of Defense donor center supports active-duty military members and their families, department civilians, reservists, Guard and Coast Guard members eligible to donate.

Participation in the program, which is 100 percent voluntary, does not obligate a person to donate. Volunteer can back out at any time.

Kott did not back out. She began the next process of the donor program -- undergoing a telephone interview regarding her health and physical well-being. She also provided updated blood samples, drawn at the David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center here and forwarded to the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

“I provided the blood sample, but I still did not really think that I would be a match for someone,” the colonel said.

She was wrong. A month later she found she was the best match for a 4-month old baby with leukemia. This is a disease of the bone marrow in which unrestrained proliferation of white blood cells occurs, usually accompanied by anemia, impaired blood clotting and enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.

“When they told me I was the best match, there was no doubt that I would donate,” she said. “The fact the recipient was a baby made it more poignant.”

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