Hundreds attend bone marrow drive for Lenoir City mayor's wife

Hundreds attend bone marrow drive for Lenoir City mayor's wife

Posted:
Countless potential donors had their cheeks swabbed to see if they were a match for Aikens. Countless potential donors had their cheeks swabbed to see if they were a match for Aikens.
The event was held at Highland Park Baptist Church. The event was held at Highland Park Baptist Church.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - The Lenoir City community came out in droves Saturday to show support for the city's first lady by hosting a bone marrow drive.

Brenda Aikens, wife of Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) three months ago, the same disease that Good Morning America's Robin Roberts was diagnosed with.

Like Roberts, Aikens now needs a bone marrow transplant.

Finding a donor can be a long, hard process, so hundreds turned out Saturday to get tested to see if they could be her donor.

Brenda is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments as she continues her battle against this disease.

"They're trying to get her in a remission-type stage so she can get a bone marrow transplant," said Rebecca Carroll, Brenda's daughter.

The goal of the benefit at Brenda's church, Highland Park Baptist Church in Lenoir City, is to find the person who can give her that life-saving transplant.

Countless potential donors had their cheeks swabbed to see if they were a match for Aikens. The more who are tested, the better chance of finding a donor.

"Just come out and support. Help save a life. Help save a life," said Carroll.

The Cooperative Appalachian Marrow Program (CAMP) was on hand to do the testing.

"They're gonna take each individual swab that's done here today and personally send it off," explained Carroll.

Brenda is at the top of their list of people looking for donors. Some of her life-long friends attended the drive in hopes of being her match.

"If I happen to be a match, it could save her life. And anyone could actually be the very one person who saves her life," said Kathy Garner of Lenoir City.

The event also included a bake sale and silent auction, the proceeds of which will help cover the cost of testing.

It costs CAMP around $100 to process each individual cheek swab.

Event organizers know that an exact match for Brenda may not be found at the event, but they could find a match for someone else in need of a donor.

"Possibly today someone in this very small town could be the match for someone else," said Mindi McNabb, who helped organize the benefit. "So we're just very optimistic that today someone's life will be changed and saved."

Brenda's family remains hopeful that the person she needs was tested.

"She's having a lot of side effects from the chemo, but she's just taking it one day at a time. She's got a lot of faith," said Carroll.

Carroll sent Brenda pictures of Saturday's event, showing her how many people came out, all hoping to join her battle and fight with her.

"It gives her a second chance at life," said Carroll.

All the proceeds from the event will benefit CAMP. The group works solely in East Tennessee to find bone marrow donor matches.

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