A third bone marrow donor drive held last Saturday for a very ill third-grader at Falcon Virtual Academy produced the largest turnout of any drive in Colorado in at least five years, according to Bonfils Blood Center in Denver.
Some 1,200 people showed up at the school during the four-hour event to see if they could help 10-year-old Aden Knar, according to Falcon School District 49 spokesman Matt Meister.
Aden has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and needs a lifesaving bone marrow transplant, but no match has been found so far through national and worldwide registries of 20 million potential donors.
Of those who attended, 744 new donors qualified and were swabbed for cell samples and processed for the national Be The Match Registry, said Dianna Hemphill, spokeswoman for Bonfils, which conducted the drive.
Whether anyone will be a match for Aden won't be known for six to eight weeks, she said, due to the complex testing for genetic markers.
"It's difficult to say how great his chances are of finding a match at these drives, even though turnout has been tremendous," she said.
But the local donors who have now joined the registry, 250 from the first drive in January, 118 from the second in February and the 744 from last weekend, may match one of the other 12,000 people waiting on the transplant list.
"One in 50 people that joined in honor of Aden will come up as a preliminary match for someone searching for a possible match," Hemphill said. "There will probably be more than one person from this drive who goes on to donate to someone who needs a transplant to survive."
It's also possible that Aden will find a match from someone who joined a registry in the last few months, from anywhere in the world.
"It's kind of a pay-it-forward model with six degrees of separation thing," Hemphill said, referring to the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person in the world through a chain of occurrences.
Matches remain anonymous for at least six months, she added.
Aden, who is now receiving intense chemotherapy at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, attended the drive for a few hours and was in "great spirits," said his dad, Mike Knar.
"He's been hospitalized so much lately that the crowd sort of had him shocked," Knar said.
Aden got to meet Batman and gawk at a fire truck and Memorial Health System's life flight helicopter, which were on hand.
Knar said he and his wife, Lori, and their four other children were "shocked beyond words" at the extent of the community support.
"Especially that most people stood in line for an hour-plus on Easter weekend," he said. "Most of the people we spoke to wanted to be a match. They are truly hoping it's one of them and that they can provide the life-saving blood Aden needs."
Knar is keeping an online chronicle of his son's cancer journey, which started the night before Easter in 2008, when Aden was just 4. Updates are posted at www.caringbridge.org/visit/adenknar.