Many kids celebrate the beginning of their teenage years by seeing PG-13 movies with their friends, but Mathias Giordano is choosing to celebrate his by raising awareness about bone barrow donation.
The cause is close to Mathias' heart. More than a year ago, the avid soccer player began complaining that his shin hurt. Just a month later, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
Since his diagnosis, Mathias endured a leg amputation below the knee, three lung surgeries, radiation and more than 25 rounds of chemotherapy.
Throughout his battle, Mathias saw first-hand how difficult bone marrow transplants can be.
“A couple of people I know needed a bone marrow transplant and it was hard for them to find a bone marrow donor,” he said.
For his birthday, Mathias said he wanted to spread awareness about this struggle.
On June 14, the day Mathias turns 13, Be The Match, the nation's largest bone marrow donor program will be offering free testing and registration at the first annual Team Mathias 1K Family Run and Fun event at the Village at Leesburg.
Friends and family of the young survivor came up with the event to help the Giordano family offset hospital bills not covered by insurance as well as travel expenses for things like gas, tolls and hotel stays during Mathias' treatment.
Family friends Emily Kelly and Linda Long contacted Be The Match about participating in the event. The group was eager to be there.
- Be The Match is looking for donors between the ages of 18 and 44 to join at no cost. Research shows that younger donors cells are more viable for long-term survival after transplant.
- Donors between the ages of 45 and 60 that want to join the bone marrow registry must do so online at www.bethematch.org and click on the Join button. They will be asked to make a $100 payment to cover the cost to join.
- Patients are more likely to match someone who shares their diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Individuals of black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, including South Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander or Hispanic or Latino descent are encouraged to join.All donors go through an extensive pre-screening process to ensure they are healthy and that the procedure is safe.
- There are two methods of donation that are chosen by the patient’s doctor: peripheral blood stem cells, the most common of the two, is a non surgical procedure where the blood is removed intravenously, and bone marrow donation, a surgical procedure that involves withdrawing liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone using a needle.