Jessica Parham was a 20-year-old Ferris State University student diagnosed with HLH (Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis), a blood disease where the body fights itself. A bone marrow transplant might have saved her, but unfortunately she died in December before a match could be found for a bone marrow transfusion.
Red Cross representatives will be at Ferris’ West Campus Community Center on Wednesday, March 26 for a bone marrow drive in Jessica’s honor. The drive is scheduled for 12 to 6 p.m. BE THE MATCH, a bone marrow transfusion matching organization, will also be at the drive. Participants can submit to a cheek swab to see if they are a match for someone who needs this life-saving procedure.
“When Jessica became ill, her mother called to inform me. After that, her mother and I talked at least a couple of times per week,” said Judy Watson, Ferris’ Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) Coordinator and Jessica’s advisor. “Most of her mother’s reports were relatively positive. It really was expected that she would recover. Jessica was given an antibiotic that caused her skin to peel and she had to be air-lifted to the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center for treatment. Unfortunately, they were not able to save her.”
Those who volunteer can also register as a donor, meet Jessica’s family and possibly save a life.
“These drives are in Jessica’s honor,” Watson said. “There are posters all over campus and in the community. The students that are a part of TOWERS and a few others are volunteering to help with the drives.”