Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Honor of Christopher Louis McGargill

My Dad is a hero to me. Like most people, life has handed him lemons and he has always done his best to make lemonade. When it comes down to it he is a stronger person than he knows. This past year has been particularly full of lemons. My Dad has been diagnosed with Myelofibrosis, which is a disease of the bone marrow. Essentially, due to scarring of the bone marrow his body is no longer producing the red blood cells that it needs to support his vital organs. He noticed a lack of energy and general feeling of illness. After a battery of tests, to include more than one bone marrow biopsy, it was determined that this is his diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Myelofibrosis. The treatment is experimental at best and is designed to treat the symptoms, not the disease. Lemon.

It has been determined that my Dad was diagnosed at a later stage of this disease. He and my Mom endured multiple trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in hopes of finding something that would enhance his quality of life, but to no avail. As the disease has progressed, his platelet count has steadily declined which opens the door to a whole new host of potential health risks. Lemon.
Due to the decline in his platelet count my Dad no longer qualified for the clinical trials at the Mayo Clinic. While he has a fantastic doctor here in Omaha, there have been very few options for treatment. Lemon.

In order to support his declining red blood cells my Dad has grown dependent on receiving blood transfusions. This process started as a transfusion every three weeks or so and is now down to every 6-7 days. He has had a port installed to assist with these transfusions as his veins have had a hard time keeping up with the volume of blood being transfused into his body. Every time he receives blood he also receives a whole new set of antibodies. In order to match his blood for the next transfusion they must evaluate the antibodies and attempt to match those as well. Lemon.

Everyday my Dad has to muster up the energy to get out of bed knowing that a productive day might include mowing ¼ of the yard and running some errands for his Mom. My Dad has always been the King of productivity; up at sunrise and going non-stop until his work is done. This has been a major adjustment for him.

Here is where we get to the lemonade. Despite his utter exhaustion, my Dad lights up and smiles from ear to ear when he is able to coo at his new grandson. He talks about my sister and her nursing career as though her accomplishments are his own. He continues to care and worry about those that he loves as though he doesn’t have worries of his own. And while he struggles with the fact that he is dealing with a disease that has no cure, he goes on with his days as best as he can.

Once a week my Dad heads up to the hospital to first get his blood typed. The next day he sits for a good 6 hours while receiving someone else’s blood. This blood supply is what keeps him alive and available to us. This blood is what has allowed him to bond with my daughter and to be around for the birth of my son. This blood is what has allowed him to continue to be an active part of this family. He may be only putting on a brave face for our benefit but it’s a brave face that I will gladly greet. Lemonade.

I am asking all of you that know my Dad to please donate a bit of time and a bit of blood in his honor. There is no cure for his disease but we have blood donors to thank for the time that we have been blessed with up to this point. The blood drive is Wednesday, December 29th from 6:30 am – 6:30 pm at Millard North High School. The entire process—from registration through snacks—only takes an hour of your time. You can register by clicking here* and scheduling an appointment for the holiday community blood drive. (You can also call 1-800-RED-CROSS if that is easier for you.) When you register, be sure to write “donating in honor of Chris McGargill” in the comment box so we can track accordingly. If you register by December 3, you will be entered into a drawing to win a cool, custom Husker shirt, designed by Sabrina Ahern. We’ll also have a special table of snacks at the blood drive dedicated to those donating in my dad’s honor, and child care will be provided by Red Cross volunteers!

If you have any questions on eligibility or blood donations, please click here.

Thank you for donating blood and saving a life—including my dad’s. Lemonade!

*If the above registration link does not work, please copy and paste the following into your browser: