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Community members sign up to fund life-saving transplants

Thursday, March 14, 2019

POLAND

Hundreds of community members signed up to fund life-saving transplants.

About 270 people pre-registered for a Thursday evening fundraiser dinner at the Lake Club for bone marrow donor registry Be The Match, coordinated by Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti.

“The two most scary words you’re going to hear are ‘cancer’ and ‘chemo,’” said Ginnetti of his late wife Missy, who was diagnosed in 2010 with stage three Hodgkin's lymphoma. “My wife — she took it in stride. She cried I’d say 30 seconds and said, ‘All right. We gotta’ beat this.’”

That blood cancer is one of 70 types that can be cured through stem-cell transplants. Be The Match maintains the largest and most diverse bone marrow donor registry in the world with more than 8.5 million registered donors, said spokeswoman Kristin Scott.

Though Missy Ginnetti succumbed to an unrelated blood clot in 2016, her transplant put her cancer in remission and gave her another two years of life, Pat Ginnetti said.

“‘You not only saved my life but the life of my husband’s wife and my kids’ mother,’” Missy Ginnetti wrote in a letter to her donor Daniel Cox, a then-21-year-old college student from southern Indiana. “That put things in perspective for me.”

Ginnetti said he hopes to make Thursday’s fundraiser an annual event, to fund patients seeking bone marrow transplants.

“We want to help other families that went through the same thing we went through,” he said.

The goal of Thursday’s fundraiser was $110,000, which Scott said at the outset of the event seemed very possible.

“For a first-time event, to be able to raise that much money is incredible,” she said. “It’s clear this community is so deeply connected and they very much care for one another. That truly shows in the way they’ve shown up en masse tonight.”