In Need of a Lifesaver that Could Be YOU!
Elena Zurita McMurry is a fourth generation Carthaginian, daughter of the late Diana Davis, granddaughter of the late Robert and Patricia Davis, and great granddaughter of the late A.L. and Julia Davis. She graduated from Carthage High School in 1998 and attended Panola College before moving to Fort Worth to complete her degree at Texas Christian University. There she met her husband, Cliff, a native of Nacogdoches, and they welcomed their son Cline to their family in 2008.
Shortly after Cline was born, he started to experience some health difficulties that began with frequent ear infections. When he was six months old, he was hospitalized while fighting a near-fatal blood infection, and he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called neutropenia.
“Over the next few years,” Elena says, “Cline fortunately overcame many obstacles and infections, often life-threatening, with the help of daily shots and incredible life-saving measures and treatments by the hematology/oncology team atCook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. We are especially grateful for the hematologist who has treated him nearly his whole life. His life’s passion is taking on these rare cases, and he has literally saved Cline’s life so many times! We believe that God placed us in Fort Worth so that he could be Cline’s doctor.”
She continues, “Shortly after Cline began kindergarten, he became very ill and was hospitalized for over a month. Cliff and I were told at that time that Cline needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant, and we proceeded to pursue a marrow match for our son.”
Cline missed eight months of kindergarten; he was confined to his home for most of those months and forced to wear a mask any time he did go out in public, due to the precarious nature of his disease and the risk of infection. Despite another miraculous recovery, now at age 9, Cline still lives with many challenges and the uncertainty of when the next obstacle will come. Unfortunately, he has yet to find a life-saving match, one that would provide security and insurance in the event his health takes another turn again.
The key to being able to find a perfect match for Cline or anyone else who needs a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is for more people to be registered in the national transplant registry. It is very simple for anyone age 18 to 50 to register and become a potential lifesaver by filling out a very simple form with contact information and then doing a simple swab on the inside of the cheek with a long Q-tip type swab. Two local swab events will be held on March 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. One will be held at Panola College during their annual Spring Fling, and the other at the First United Methodist Church Activity Center at 201 South Shelby. See the related article with more information and details in this edition of Panola Crossroads.
At least 12 to 15 swab events were held for Cline in an effort to find a match for him between 2014 and 2015. The initial one in Fort Worth was one of the largest swab events in the nation. There were also ones in Miami, Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The chef at a favorite restaurant of the McMurrys was so touched by their need that he put a poster about Cline in his food truck and carries swabs around with him, asking anyone he comes into contact with to swab and send one in to the registry. In keeping with the modern tradition of using hashtags and phrases for initiatives, Elena’s 20-year daughter Carmen came up with #mineforcline. After musing that she was certainly willing to give up her marrow for him, the “Mine for Cline” phrase was born, and the events have all featured a logo with those words.
Elena and Cliff are gratified that, even though a match for Cline has not been found, people who swabbed at events for him have been identified as matches for other people and have become donors. At least six friends have been donors in the past two years, and all of their transplants have been successful and lifesaving.
A recent donation was made by family friend Michael Rariden. Elena says, “Cliff and I had the pleasure of visiting Michael while he was making his stem cell donation. I was so moved that we were witnessing a friend saving a stranger’s life right there before us! We cannot thank him enough for swabbing for Cline and in turn giving the ultimate gift to another human being!”
Another friend, Colin Trudo, whose wife Cayce had been Elena’s postpartum nurse when Cline was born, was also a match for someone. Cayce says, “My husband was called that he could be a stem cell donor, and he could not wait to save someone’s life. I urge everyone who qualifies to please join the worldwide registry and help the fight against blood cancer. Being a donor is life changing!”
Elena says, “There are so many wonderful stories of people who say ‘yes’ when they are asked to be donors, but ironically I have another friend whose brother lost his life to leukemia because his donor said ‘no.’ I also know of a college student who was a match and was excited to accept the opportunity to be a donor, but her parents had a family vacation planned that was in conflict with the time and insisted she come with them instead. It is hard for me to fathom how one can do that. Wouldn’t we save someone from drowning? Wouldn’t we be ones who ran into those buildings on 9/11? Wouldn’t we with our own bodies try to protect a toddler running into a busy street? Getting swabbed is easier than any of those, and donating stem cells or marrow to one of these people is just as critical to saving a life!”
Elena also reminds people who are not in the 18 to 50 age bracket to share the information with people they know who are. “Parents and grandparents of college-age children especially,” she requests, “please let them know about the great need and how easy it is for people to swab and get registered. People this age are often very altruistic and eager to become potential lifesavers.”
“Cliff and I have faith that a match will be found,” says Elena, “and we continue to seek answers. We have travelled to hospitals all around the country in pursuit of the best doctors and care in the event we are able to find that one person who could change Cline’s health forever. Every doctor has remarked that Cline is the only child in the world with the unique set of components in his blood that give him a certain kind of neutropenia that they have yet to clearly define. Although this is unsettling to us as parents, we continue to try to let Cline live like a normal boy as best we can, and lean on the understanding that our God is a God of miracles who often answers His people’s prayers. He has put so many divine appointments in place for us during this whole ordeal!”
She continues, “That one person who could save Cline’s life could be YOU! Please consider swabbing for our son; you could be the one to give him the gift of health and longevity, and to give his parents the peace of knowing he can look forward to a wonderful future, free from the fear of hospitals and health scares, for the rest of his life.”