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Ailing boy waits for transplant donor

With severe sickle cell anemia, nine-year-old Json Walker’s best real hope for a normal life is a bone marrow transplant. No one in Json’s family is a match, and so a marrow drive is planned for Browns Chapel CME Church in Sylvester, December 23.

With severe sickle cell anemia, nine-year-old Json Walker’s best real hope for a normal life is a bone marrow transplant. No one in Json’s family is a match, and so a marrow drive is planned for Browns Chapel CME Church in Sylvester, December 23.

SYLVESTER, Ga. — A gift from the right person could make a significant change in the life of a nine-year-old Worth County youngster.

Since birth, Json Walker has suffered from severe sickle cell anemia, a genetic disease characterized by abnormally-shaped red blood cells and the potential for causing strokes, high blood pressure, acute lung problem and other life-threatening symptoms.

Json has undergone eight separate surgeries in his young life, including brain surgery in 2010. The only known cure for sickle cell anemia is a bone marrow transplant, but so far a match has not been found. Neither his father, Jason Walker, his mother Shalonda Polk, or even his twin sister, Ja’Kerria, are able to provide the needed marrow.

In association with the National Marrow Donor Program, Be The Match, a marrow drive is planned for Json Dec. 23 from 1 p.m. through 4 p.m. at the annex building of Browns Chapel CME Church, 113 South Livingston St. in Sylvester.

According to Polk, a match for the youngster’s marrow can be determined through a simple swab to the inside of a person’s cheek. To join the donor registry at the drive, applicants must meet certain health guidelines, be between the ages of 18 and 44 and be willing to donate to any patient in need.

Polk said that if a suitable bone marrow match is found, Json will remain at Egleston Childrens Hospital in Atlanta for six weeks after the procedure. Mother and son would then stay at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House for an additional six months while Json recovers.

For information on the upcoming Be The Match, contact Rod Gunn at rgunn@nmdp.org, (770) 330-1590, or Shalonda Polk, (229) 669-2157.