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    New Jersey Soldier gives gift of life

    New Jersey Soldier gives gift of life

    Photo By Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Quintessa Nash stands for a portrait at the New Jersey...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht 

    New Jersey National Guard   

    The New Jersey National Guard held a Black History Month observance with the theme “Black Health & Wellness,” Feb. 25, 2022, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, with guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class Quintessa Nash.

    She spoke with fellow Soldiers and Airmen about her experiences as a bone marrow donor.

    “I love raising awareness,” said Nash “And I hope to inspire others to do the same.”

    A bone marrow transplant can save the life of someone with a blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma.

    Nash, a Citizen-Soldier with the New Jersey Army National Guard, works full-time as a bureau chief with the Information Services Division at the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

    In 2011, after a friend was diagnosed with cancer, Nash was inspired to submit a sample to see if she was a match for someone in need.

    “I was surprised to find out that Blacks and Hispanics have lower numbers for matching donors in the registry,” said Nash.

    According to the National Bone Marrow Registry, there is an urgent need to diversify the number of donors, increasing the likelihood patients can find a match. Many ethnic groups are underrepresented, making it difficult to find matches.

    In a recent survey on the site, only 25% of Black Americans are able to find a matching donor.

    Nearly a decade later, Nash was contacted by Salute to Life, an organization that works with military personnel, family members, Department of Defense civilians, Reservists, Coast Guard, and National Guard members to facilitate bone marrow and stem cell donations.

    Salute to Life describes itself as an organization that is designed to accommodate the scheduling and security needs of military personnel and donors never bear the cost of registration or donation. Since 1991, they have recruited more than a million donors and coordinated more than 8,000 cellular donations.

    “When I got a call that I had a match, they don’t tell you anything about your recipient except for gender and age,” said Nash.

    To boost the numbers of stem cells in her blood, Nash spent six days receiving injections of Filgrastim, a drug that increases the blood’s white cell count.

    She donated via a peripheral blood stem cell procedure, where blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that collects only the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned through a needle in the other arm.

    Nash had some aches and pains for a few days, but said the procedure was easy and she was happy to do it.

    “It felt great because I understand what the families and recipients go through,” said Nash. “Being able to remove some of that worry is an amazing feeling.”

    After the ninth month, donors can contact Salute to Life to learn the how the patient is doing.

    “I’m hoping this story will have a happy ending. I will not know my recipient’s status until this August.”



    Date Taken: 02.28.2022
    Date Posted: 02.28.2022 20:08
    Story ID: 415486

    Web Views: 232
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