After his son was born with complications last May, Hartland High School teacher Frank Shinkonis stepped off the elevator and onto the wrong floor at Mott’s Children’s Hospital, where he encountered a young child with cancer.
Although it wasn’t the first time, Shinkonis says the impact of seeing that child at that moment made him feel angry and helpless.
“I just felt so bad I couldn’t help him,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s because your so full emotion after a child’s born.”
Three days later, at home with his healthy son, the history teacher said by coincidence, he saw a news story where a bone marrow transplant helped saved a little girl’s life and he realized that he wasn’t helpless and started to take action.
On March 23, a Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry Drive will be held at Hartland High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s a chance, Shinkonis said, for the community to help save a life.
“It’s about 10 minutes out of your day and it’s such a rare opportunity, almost an honor to be able to have this chance to save someone’s life,” he said.
According to Shinkonis, bone marrow drives aren’t common enough and says many people don’t understand the procedure or the importance of being registered. With a 1 in 540 chance of being a match, Shinkonis says if contacted, the procedure itself is quiet simple.
“Oftentimes, giving bone marrow is like giving blood, you just take a shot,” he said. “And if you are getting marrow straight from you, it’s almost always for a child and the surgery itself is akin to falling on the ice.”
After a small amount of paperwork and a cheek swab, people attending the March 23 event will be registered. Being a match for a bone marrow transplant can help save the lives of people battling leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood cancers.
“If you are a match, you would know who you are saving,” Shinkonis said. “I think it could be one of the most important things you do with your life. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than actually saving someone’s life.”
Anyone between the ages of 18 to 44 is welcome to attend and register. Typically, the procedure costs an average of $100 per person, but the Be the Match event will be free of charge to the public.
Donations are also accepted online.