SOUTH WEBER -- Ten years ago, Julianne Grose's brother-in-law died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Because of the family's donation work in his honor, she now has a chance to save a child's life.
Gregg Schaub was a 34-year-old Layton resident when he lost his battle to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2003. At the time, his family had launched several bone marrow registration drives in the hope of finding a match to save his life.
But even after his death, the family wanted to continue to bring about awareness, so they created the Gregg Schaub Donor Foundation, headquartered in South Weber.
On May 29, Grose was contacted and told she was a match for a child with cancer.
"I was so excited, I called them immediately," she said. "I have kept my registration active by updating my information regularly, but I never expected to donate."
Grose, a 39-year-old mother of three and an assistant professor at Brigham Young University in the department of microbiology and molecular biology, has an extremely rare human leukocyte antigen, the name given to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of humans. The HLA complex of genes on human chromosome 6 encodes proteins that are centrally involved in the actions of the immune system.
In addition, Grose, has battled her own health issues in the past.
She also said there are 10.5 million donors in the registry. About 1 in 540 will donate, but male donors between ages 18 and 35 are preferred.
"Now I am healthier than ever and a match," she said. "What is more, I am donating on a date that has very special meaning to Gregg and my family."
Each year, nearly 20,000 people, ages zero to 74, are in need of a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources. These patients have life-threatening diseases, including certain types of cancer. About 70 percent of these people do not have a matching donor in their family and depend on an unrelated donor.
Schaub's widow, Jennifer, who was married to Gregg for 15 years and had four children with him, said she is thrilled for Grose.
"When we held the drives, we registered thousands of people," she said. "Now a member of our family has a chance to donate. It's an amazing miracle."
Grose said she would like to ask everyone to pray for the child receiving the donation.
"This child has a tough road ahead. For the transplants to be successful, several things need to happen," she said. "The child has to be strong enough to go through with the procedure, the cancer has to be in remission, the transplant must work and this treatment must get rid of the cancer."
Grose said she feels like everything has come full circle since Schaub's death.
"Over 10 years ago, we were looking for a miracle. A lot of prayers and a lot of work went into the marrow donation registration drives. Now we are seeing that miracle. I am donating in honor of Gregg," she said. "I think this is a unique event, having a donor who understand a little of what it feels like to be on the other side of this. My family understands what it's like to be hoping and praying for a donor."
If you would like to register to donate marrow, go to http://bethematch.org/Home.aspx.