The Washington Times-Herald

April 16, 2013

The gift of life, hope

Fischer's inspiration helps Australian teacher

Lindsay Owens
Washington Times Herald

WASHINGTON — This is a story that began over five years ago in Washington, touched lives in Brisbane, Australia, and now hopes to spread awareness and save lives everywhere.

In 2008, Duane Wilson read about a blood drive and bone marrow registry taking place for Shay Fischer, then a 19-year-old North Daviess High School student battling leukemia.   Even though Shay was in need of a bone marrow transplant at the time, she knew the odds of the blood and bone marrow drive benefitting her were slim but she had hoped that the event would raise awareness for other cancer patients in need. Little would she know one life, thousands of miles away and in another country, would be prolonged by her efforts.  Shay lost her battle with leukemia of June 2, 2008.

Wilson didn’t know Shay. He had no idea how his life would change over the next several months. Wilson, who gives blood on a regular basis, just wanted to help someone in need with what God had given him. “I didn’t have to have super powers, be extremely fit or change anything about me. I could help someone simply by sharing with them what God had already provided me with,” Wilson said. 

When Wilson signed up for the bone marrow registry, he paid a $25 fee that covered the cost of his initial testing.

“The test was just swabbing the inside of my cheek with a cotton swab,” said Wilson.

After that the waiting began. Many people who sign up to be bone marrow donors never receive a call but just 18 months after joining the registry, Wilson was contacted by the Indiana Blood Center. There was a chance he was match for a 46- year-old leukemia patient. Wilson would later learn that he matched Seva Souris, a then 46 year old kindergarten teacher from Australia.

Wilson and Souris began a friendship through Facebook and Skype after the two year confidentiality period was over. Because of Wilson's donation, Souris' was cancer free for two and a half years before her cancer returned.

Souris lost her battle on November 29, 2012, just shy of her 50th birthday.

To honor the lives of Shay and Seva, Wilson along with Shelley Crooks, Shay’s mother, have come together to sponsor a blood drive and bone marrow registry on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Antioch Christian Church in Washington. The two have named their event “The Drive to Save Lives in Honor of Shay and Seva.”  “Typically, Be the Match, the bone marrow registry’s not for profit organization, charges individuals $100 to join the registry. Part of that fee goes to cover the testing,” said Wilson. For this event Be the Match will register potential donors ages 18 to 24 free of charge.  To help off-set the cost to Be the Match for the all the testing, Wilson and Crooks will be accepting raffle items and taking free will donations. The money raised from the event will be used by Be the Match for future bone marrow drives.

For more information on the Drive to Save Lives or to donate items for the raffle, contact Duane Wilson at 812-698-0680. If you would like to know more about Be the Match, visit bethematch.org.