Area church’s effort to give ‘new hope’ to teen in need of bone marrow transplant
3rd March 2014 · 0 Comments
By Fritz Esker
New Orleanians looking to help a boy in need are invited to attend the “Swab for Scooter” bone marrow and blood drive at New Hope Baptist Church on LaSalle St. on Saturday, March ,8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Seventeen-year-old Ventress “Scooter” Johnson was diagnosed with Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Disease two years ago. Johnson was born in New Orleans but moved to Los Angeles with his family post-Katrina. They are now in Pearland, TX, but Johnson hopes to return to Louisiana and attend Southern University in Baton Rouge in the fall. He plans to major in business with an emphasis in sports management (he’s an avid Saints and Pelicans fan). Johnson is a churchgoer and shares his gift of music as a drummer at the St. James Baptist Church.Johnson is in dire need of a bone marrow transplant. African Americans have a hard time finding bone marrow donors. Only seven percent of the bone marrow donor registry is African American (for Caucasians, that number is 67%). While there are a number of reasons why the number of African-American donors is so small, the reality is that it can be particularly difficult for them to find a bone marrow donor in their hour of need.
Aurora Carter, a member of Johnson’s church who is helping to organize the event, said that if any person ends up being a match for Johnson, then all of the subsequent expenses will be taken care of by Be The Match. Be the Match is a national base of individuals who have signed up to donate marrow to those in need. Carter said she hopes to get as many people ages 18-44 as possible to the event for cheek swabs to test their donor eligibility.
Because of possible complications, Johnson is also in need of blood. So even if a person is not a bone marrow match, they can help Scooter’s cause by showing up to the event and donating blood. Carter said donations will be accepted from anyone age 16 and above (those ages 16 and 17 will need parental consent).
If someone wants to help but cannot make the event, financial donations will be accepted to pay for expenses the family will incur in the event Scooter finds a match and gets a transplant. To donate to Scooter’s cause, join his team at the Be the Match Foundation page (www.bethematch.org).
“He’s just a good kid,” Carter said. “We want to do everything we can to help.”
This article originally published in the March 3, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.