DENVER -- Forty-one-year-old Mark Jenkins joined the Army after the September 11th tragedy because he wanted to make a difference.
Now, he’s using his courage and strength to fight for his life on a different kind of battlefield.
Mark has Leukemia, cancer of the blood, and must receive a bone marrow transplant to live.
There is no current match for Mark, but he hopes someone in the Denver area will be able to help and ultimately save his life.
Mark says it was a shock to learn that he was in a position of depending on the kindness of strangers, “I was sitting in my car at Buckley Air Force Base and I got the phone call and I was in shock ... it was like getting punched in the stomach.”
Mark’s wife Darlene is joining Mark in an effort to get the word out that donation is something we all can do to make a difference.
The Jenkins’ are working with the Bonfils Blood Center and Mayor Michael Hancock to increase public awareness.
Bonfils spokeswoman Jessica Maitland says more than 10,000 people are on the donor waiting list in the U.S., but myths about the donation process scare some possible donors away.
Maitland says that more African Americans are desperately needed to increase the chances of matches for that group, “It's almost like finding a needle in the haystack so the more people on the registry and the more diversity the better.”
Jenkins says there is nothing to fear by donating marrow and adds, “a lot of people think it's going to hurt but technology is so great it doesn't hurt anymore.”
There is no cost to the donor and no extensive hospital stay is involved.
Mayor Michael Hancock joined the registry by going through the simple cheek swabbing process. “I gave a swab. It took 5 seconds and now we're going to see if I'm a match that to me makes a difference.”
Mark says he hopes more people will come forward so he can have a chance to live, and see his daughter Meagan graduate from high school, “I don't know how long this disease is going to take, she's my only daughter.”
For more information visit www.bonfils.org or you can call 303-363-2300.