After loss, family organizes marrow drive

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Even as a young boy, Jon Hustedt planned to study at the University of Illinois.

"Jon, since about the age of 11 knew that he wanted to come to the U of I,” said his mother Kathy Hustedt. “He entered as a freshman … and loved the U of I, loved living here, loved living here, loved his classes."

During a physical, though, Jon was given a blood test. The results showed he had a blood condition called Aplastic Anemia. Over the next few years, it developed into cancer, and Jon’s family began searching for a bone marrow transplant.

"We searched for a year before we found one match,” Kathy said. “We continued to look for more matches for the second year, and there just was not another match out there."

Last August, Jon died. Soon, his parents began planning a bone marrow drive at the University of Illinois.

Amanda Howie, a recruitment development coordinator, explained how the drive works.

"All you have to do is come in and fill out an application and do a cheek swab,” Howie said. “Obviously, it can be a much bigger commitment later if you're ever called to be a match, so we do ask that people feel like they would say 'yes' to us today.”

Howie said donating is not as scary as it seems.

"Seventy-five percent of the time it is just like a plasma draw,” Howie said. “Basically, your blood is filtered. We take your stem cells and give you back everything else. The other 25 percent of the time it is still a marrow donation surgery which is what people are always concerned about, but you're always under anesthesia. Most people say they feel like they fell on the ice."

Meanwhile, the Hustedt family said they hope others will volunteer to join the bone marrow registry.

“Just please join,” Kathy said. “There are so many people waiting for a match, and they’re going to pass away without it.”

“It’s truly their last resort,” Chris Hustedt said. “When they get to the point where they need a bone marrow transplant that is their last resort.”

(Photos courtesy of Greg Taylor Photography, Mansfield)

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