Amy Finds A Bone Marrow Donor

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It will be a memorable Valentine's Day for Amy von Somogyi.

Her longshot search for a bone marrow match to battle leukemia was successful, and the procedure is scheduled to take place Saturday.

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Amy von Somogyi will begin her bone marrow transplant on Valentine's Day.

The 42-year-old Payson resident has acute myelogenous leukemia. Doctors say a bone marrow transplant is her best chance after two rounds of chemotherapy failed to produce the desired results.

Finding a good match is difficult once family members are eliminated as donors.

"It's like a fingerprint," Oscar Correa of the National Marrow Donor Program said. "There's six antigens they match on. You get three from your mother and three from your father, so the best place to find a match is within your family, which happens about 25 percent of the time."

Fortunately, a near perfect match was found for von Somogyi through the donor program.

"Actually, they match you on a total of 10 different things, and I matched 10 out of 10," she said. "That's a really good thing for me, because it means there's a much less chance I'll get really sick."

But the procedure is still risky, with only a 50-50 chance of a total cure.

"Everybody gets rejection," von Somogyi said. "I will reject it. It will reject me. How hard it will be, nobody knows. It can be anything from minor problems to death."

However the procedure goes, von Somogyi faces a long recovery period, and once again needs the community's assistance. After a six-week hospital stay, she has to spend at least three months at a hotel next to the hospital.

"It's an average stay of 100 days, possibly more," von Somogyi said. "They have to watch me every day because I can get septic and die in an hour-and-a-half."

Von Somogyi's friends have organized a fundraising drive called "Be Amy's Roommate."

"We're asking people to donate a night at the hotel," von Somogyi said. "It costs $100 a night, and my husband has missed so much work over this that we don't have much money."

To donate a night at the hotel, call either Mary-Alice Mustacci at (928) 468-6248 or Kris Ladau at (928) 468-8208.

Contributions can also be made directly into a Stockmen's Bank account established for that purpose (No. 2703006045).

"If people donate through the bank account, we would like them to call Mary-Alice and let her know so we can thank everybody," von Somogyi said.

So far the community has responded by helping raise $2,800 at a bake sale, and 56 local residents gave samples at a bone marrow clinic held Dec. 20 in hopes of finding a match.

While von Somogyi found out that her donor was tested in Minnesota and was therefore not one of the Rim country donors, many other lives will be saved. Thirty thousand people are seeking a bone marrow donor match at any given time.

"It means that 56 other people like me might live that wouldn't have had a chance before," she said.

Von Somogyi would also appreciate cards and any books on tape people are willing to loan her, preferably history, historical fiction and classics.

"I can't read because my eyes are blurry from the drugs," she said.

Her current mailing address is: Amy von Somogyi-Cobb, Room 1215,City of Hope, Good Samaritan Hospital, 1111 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

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