Jake Sachse considers himself a typical teenager, but he’s far from it.
While other teens are thinking about music, homework and driving tests, this 16-year-old is busy raising awareness of bone marrow donation.
Inspired by his father's experiences with cancer, Jake — a junior at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif. — launched a drive to sign up potential donors to the National Marrow Donor Program registry. The drive also raised funds to underwrite testing costs. During the drive, called “Be An Angel + Save A Life,” held in November at Sachse’s school, nearly 500 adults and students enrolled.
In 2002, when Jake was 11 years old, his father, Ed Sachse, developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. The elder Sachse underwent two stem cell transplants at City of Hope to battle the disease.
Jake Sachse and his 9-year-old sister, Erin, remained strong throughout the treatment, according to their mother, Julie Sachse. “By getting involved in helping others, it empowered my children to understand this disease and truly made a difference,” she said. Part of their healing included holding two blood drives.
After receiving a transplant from an anonymous marrow donor, whom Ed Sachse calls “an angel,” his cancer went into remission. The angelic reference struck a chord in his son, who then came up with the idea for a bone marrow drive.
Bolstered by the success of their prior blood drives, Jake Sachse enlisted friends, family, companies and organizations to help. Besides recruiting donors, the event also raised funds for the Phase One Foundation, which recently awarded a $500,000 grant to City of Hope to support cancer research. Ed Sachse serves as co-chair of the Phase One Foundation, an organization with a mission of supporting phase I clinical trial research and treatment programs for cancer patients.
With his first drive under his belt, Jake continues to promote stem cell donation. “Just like the anonymous angel who donated stem cells to save my dad’s life, everyone can participate and possibly save a life and give the gift of hope,” he said.
For more information on how to sign up to be a potential marrow donor, or to donate funds, go to www.beanangelsavealife.org.
A marrow hope
More than 6,000 men, women and children each day hope for a match through the National Marrow Donor Program, or NMDP. Patients may have leukemia, lymphoma or other life-threatening diseases that can be treated through a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. A transplant may be the best and only form of cure for these patients — and their hopes depend on the chance that a potential donor somewhere in the world has volunteered and signed up.
According to the NMDP, the patients searching through its registry have access to these resources:
6 million potential bone marrow donors
60,000 cord blood units donated by parents after their baby’s birth
4 million additional donors and cord blood units, thanks to partnerships worldwide
City of Hope is a designated NMDP donor center. Since receiving its designation in 1991, it has educated and signed up more than 76,000 volunteers to the registry. Interested in learning more? Contact the City of Hope Blood Donor and Apheresis Center today.