Bone marrow drive to be held Thursday for Jefferson Co. deputy with cancer

Bone marrow drive to be held Thursday for Jefferson Co. deputy with cancer

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A sergeant with the Jefferson County Sheriff's department is fighting for his life and his family is turning to the community for help.

Deputy Randy Nash has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Sadly, this is not his only experience with cancer. He lost both his wife and father to the disease.

Thankfully Nash is not facing the diagnosis alone and there's a way for the community to help. Doctors say a bone marrow transplant could save his life.

On Thursday his family, the sheriff's office, and the Be the Match Foundation are holding a drive in hopes they can find Nash a possible life-saving match.

Meanwhile his Tancy Clark is holding on to hope, hope that her father will win his latest battle with cancer. She says her father was diagnosed with leukemia in May.

"At first it was really hard. Just you know the idea of having to go through all that again," she said.

Clark said the family's experience with the devastating disease began years ago. In 2009 Nash beat throat cancer. But not everyone in his family would be so lucky. In January of 2013, Nash's father died of cancer. One year later, his wife lost her fight to breast cancer.

"It was a lot harder, coming on the heels of two deaths of people who were the most important to him," explained Clark.

Doctors gave Nash and his family a glimmer of hope with the news a bone marrow transplant could be the key to win this fight. But the family also learned the odds of finding a match are slim, especially for Nash as an African American.

According to Be the Match, the chance of having a matched, available donor on the registry is close to 97 percent for Caucasians, but for African Americans and other minorities, the chance can be as low as 66 percent. Only 7 percent of the 12 million people on the registry are African American. Donors and patients who share the same ancestry are most likely to match.

Once news of Nash's diagnosis got around, it didn't take long for his friends to offer help.

"This thing has come together in like a week," Clark said.

The idea for a bone marrow drive came to life. Sherriff Mike Hale jumped at the opportunity to help one of his deputies and to give back to the man who was a source of strength for his wife during her battle with breast cancer.

"He encouraged her and anybody knows about chemo, they know it's tough. He was there for her," explained Hale.

Anyone interested in becoming a registered bone marrow donor can stop by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, August 21 at 2200 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The requirements are that the donor is between the ages of 18-44, is willing to donate to any patient in need, and is in general good health.

Representatives with Be the Match Foundation say the process is quick and painless. Jefferson County deputies will be on hand to help with parking and directing traffic.

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