February 15, 2023

Sharing Story of a Loving Gift, and Encouraging People to Join Registry

To the Editor:

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share our story. In 2014, my husband of 32 years Roy was battling acute myeloid leukemia and he needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life. But we couldn’t find a match in our family.

So, we turned to the national registry and someone we had never met gave my husband the lifesaving transplant he needed. Because of this loving gift, we can share Valentine’s Day and many more days, together.

I’m trying to pay it forward by sharing my story, hopefully to inspire Princeton students to join the national registry at bethematch.org. I’m also participating in a virtual fly-in to Congress later this month. For more than 40 years, visionaries in Congress, including New Jersey Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Chris Smith, have supported funding so the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program has the resources to facilitate lifesaving transplants to patients like Roy.

This year, we’ll ask Congress for increased support to expand efforts so more patients can access transplants. Our lawmakers have the opportunity to help patients find out earlier in their diagnosis whether they have a potentially lifesaving match on the registry. That will help them make important decisions that can ensure everyone has the opportunity Roy and I had — hope for more years together as Valentines.

Charlene Rigie
Rivendell Road, Hillsborough