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Bone marrow found for Corcoran

By Andrea Lamberti

A bone marrow donor has been located for Christopher J. Corcoran, the son of East Campus house manager John P. Corcoran, who suffers from leukemia, according to his father.

Thanks to the donor, Christopher will most likely undergo a bone marrow transplant in January, the elder Corcoran said. A bone marrow transplant is crucial for the treatment of leukemia.

About two weeks ago, the Corcorans learned that the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) had located a person with the same tissue type who was willing to donate, Corcoran said. "It's wonderful," he added.

The Corcorans do not know the the donor's identity or location. " All we know is that [the donor] is a female," Corcoran said.

Right now Christopher, 24, is in remission. He is at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to get "his immune system back in fairly decent shape so they can go ahead with the transplant," his father said. Christopher was diagnosed as having leukemia three and a half months ago.

The donor's information was in the marrow donor registry before the Corcorans held the first of two marrow drives this fall, Corcoran said. Each donor must go through several rounds of tests, Corcoran said, and at the time of the drives, his son's donor was not confirmed as a match.

The donor's name was "already in the computer, [but] was still a `maybe' at time of drives. In the meantime, the person was further tested, and proved to be a positive match," he said.

The NMDP maintains a list of approximately 138,000 donors throughout the country. The list was established in 1987 to help patients searching for marrow donors.

Over 1300 volunteered

in two marrow drives

Corcoran sponsored two bone marrow drives in September and November, according to Kathryn J. Comer '91, membership vice president of the Technology Community Association, which helped sponsor and publicize the events.

Even though a potential donor had already been located through the NMDP, Corcoran still went ahead with the drives. "We did the drive mainly to increase his chances [of finding a match]," he said. It also opened up the possibility that other people with leukemia could find matches.

The Sep. 30 drive, which drew over 1200 people, did result in a tissue match for another leukemia patient, Corcoran said. "[That] individual has already been contacted as a possible donor for someone else," he said. The names are kept confidential, he added.

Three hundred people were tested in the second drive on Nov. 11, Comer said. The drives were held largely through Corcoran's private initiatives, she added. They drew people from Somerville, Harvard University and Wesleyan College, where Corcoran went to school, as well as the MIT community.

Corcoran began planning for the drives because his son could not find a tissue match within the family. The chances are about 30 percent that a person with leukemia will find a match with a family member, according to NMDP literature.

The tests involves taking small blood samples, which are then tested for the donor's tissue type. Each donor's tissue type is then entered into the NMDP registry as a potential donor.

Corcoran commended the entire MIT community for its participation in the marrow drives. "The entire community has been spontaneous," he said. "[I] just can't say enough."