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An inspiring story

Lacey McClain, a 12-year-old from Pine Island, was diagnosed with blood cancer last October and spent months waiting for a bone marrow match. Her story inspired veterinarian Jennifer Scott to organize a bone marrow registry drive in Red Wing next weekend. (Photo provided by Chrissie Jurrens)1 / 2
All Creatures Veterinary Clinic in Red Wing will host a bone marrow registry drive March 14 and 15. Anyone who completes the registration will receive a coupon for a free pet toenail trim. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)2 / 2

Jennifer Scott has never met 12-year-old Lacey McClain, but when she learned about the Pine Island fifth-grader’s battle with blood and bone marrow cancer, she knew she wanted to help.

Scott, a veterinarian with All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, will hold a bone marrow registry drive 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday March 14 and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday March 15 in the Red Wing office, 431 Guernsey Lane.

“I have little ones myself,” Scott said. “If it was me in that situation, I would want everybody to try to help if they could.”

Lacey was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia last October, said mother Chrissie Jurrens, a native of Red Wing. Chemotherapy put the disease into remission, but doctors said it would take a bone marrow transplant to treat the cancer for good.

When none of Lacey’s family members came back positive for a match, a call went out to the community to sign up with Be The Match, a national bone marrow donor registry.

After around three months of waiting, Jurrens said a match for Lacey was found in the form of an umbilical cord blood donation, which can be used as an alternative to bone marrow.

Jurrens said she is grateful to the public for organizing donor drives, and is glad Lacey’s story has shed light on the need for bone marrow and cord blood. “I think it’s really a blessing that my daughter inspired something so huge that can help many other people besides her.”

Constant need

An estimated 12,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with diseases requiring bone marrow transplants, according to Be The Match. Around 70 percent will not have a matching donor in their family.

“You hate to think that there are children out there — and adults, too — who are waiting on a match they can’t find,” Scott said.

Working with a registry representative, Scott said she is undergoing training to organize and run next weekend’s drive. She then will instruct a group of around eight co-workers and friends to assist her.

“The registration process is a simple cheek swab, so it’s not painful,” Scott said, but potential donors will first need to fill out paperwork to make sure they are eligible.

The ideal donor is between the ages of 18 and 44, and must be free of autoimmune diseases and certain chronic conditions, according to Be The Match. A wide range of donors with diverse ethnic backgrounds is needed as it helps increase the chances of finding a match.

Registration at the Red Wing drive is free for people 18-44 years old, Scott said. In addition, anyone who successfully signs up will receive a coupon for a free toenail trim for their cat or dog at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic.

She added that people who are unable to register can give monetary donations to help fund Be The Match’s registration work, which costs around $100 to process each applicant.

More information on donor requirements and online registration instructions can be found at

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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