Hundreds register as bone-marrow donors for Lake Stevens father

LAKE STEVENS — An estimated 800 people registered as potential bone marrow donors in response to the illness of Matt Johnson, a 34-year-old Lake Stevens father of four.

In February, Johnson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of myelodysplastic syndrome, which can progress into leukemia. He needs a bone marrow transplant to battle the disease.

More than 200 people signed on to the national bone marrow registry in two recent drives held in Marysville.

“We were very surprised at the turnout,” said Matt Johnson’s wife, Jackie Johnson. “So many of the people who came in didn’t even know us.”

An additional 325 registered at a drive in Oak Harbor, where the couple grew up and attended high school.

A family member organized another drive in Colorado. And through e-mail, word was passed from friend to friend across the nation.

“We were getting e-mails from all over the country saying they had registered at their local blood bank,” Jackie Johnson said.

The couple also received letters from people who had heard about his illness, many of them from young dads, saying they, too, had joined the bone marrow registry, she said.

“I think it touches people’s hearts because we have four young kids,” she said.

Their oldest child is son Dustin, 7, and their three daughters are Tesa, 4, and 16-month-old twins Taylor and Jordyn.

Jackie Johnson said her husband recently learned there are six potential matches to be bone marrow donors. The first step in his treatment, chemotherapy, is scheduled to begin on May 16 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

After four days of outpatient chemotherapy treatments, he will be hospitalized at the University of Washington Medical Center for two additional days of more rugged chemotherapy sessions, his wife said.

The bone marrow donation is tentatively scheduled for May 23.

“The outpouring of support by family, friends, acquaintances and people we don’t know has been completely overwhelming to both of us,” she said. “Our prayers have been answered one by one.”

Reporter Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

Benefit auction June 1

A benefit auction to help pay for an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 in charges not covered by insurance to treat Matt Johnson is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. June 1.

The event will be at the Lake Stevens Boys &Girls Club, 1609 E. Lakeshore Drive. Call Cari Echelbarger at 206-920-3672 for information.

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