DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Team Harrison is getting more recruits.
Nine-year-old Harrison Marcus is fighting acute myeloid leukemia.
Now, family, friends and even total strangers are working to find him a match for a bone marrow transplant.
“The sheer panic,” says Jo Trizila. “Nobody plans to have their child get cancer. Nobody.”
Trizila has never met the boy whose life she is working to help save, but her words carry weight when she shares that she’s been there.
“I was not supposed to survive,” says Trizila of the childhood blood cancer that doctors had warned would kill her.
“Three times my parents heard ‘I’m sorry, there is no cure’,” recalls Trizila. “Multiple, multiple times they said ‘come to the hospital , because your daughter is not going to make it through the night. Multiple, multiple times! And I’m here!”
Her younger brother was ultimately a match for a procedure that was in the 1980s, still experimental. Her very survival, she says, demands that she pay it forward.
“There’s a bible verse that I live and breathe by: it says ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’. And I have been given so much: I have been given my life!”
So when a realtor friend wanted to turn a high-dollar open house into a charity event, Trizila immediately thought of Team Harrison.
“We pulled in an artist, Tom Hoitsma, who was so generous to hang his art in here,” says Reator Karen Hartman of the HartmanTerilli group, saying she explained that “hey! we’ve got to make this bigger than ever, because we’ve got to find a match!”
Hartman says the Thursday evening open house at a $2.1 million home on Midbury Drive will attract potential buyers, but also colleagues from the real estate community and others who want to be a part of the effort.
“Debbie Sherrington has the house down the street,” says Hartman of another multi-million dollar listing included in the free home tour. “So it can be prospects, lenders, realtors, it doesn’t matter: we want your marrow!”
Over the weekend, more than a thousand potential donors registered at a drive and more are planned.
Trizila also knows that the simple cheek swabs can save lives, even in unexpected places. Instead of a 40th birthday party, she asked friends for a donor drive, instead.
“We did it in a bar, and we sent out an invitations,” recalled Trizila, who adds that along with her friends, strangers in the bar also registered for the bone marrow registry. And then she got the second best gift of all.
“Somebody from that day was a match for somebody…and saved their life.”
A virtual donor drive for Team Harrison is ongoing. You can request a kit and join the donor registry from the comfort of home.
“I want Harrison to be able to look at me and say ‘wow she’s an old lady’… and I am!”Trizila adds with a laugh. “And I’m not supposed to be here. And I’m here! Hope. The world needs more.”