Local teen to receive gift of life from sister

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Matt Rucker

GEORGETOWN S.C. — When Rachel Rucker — a teacher at Montessori School of Pawleys Island — found out she could help save the life of her brother, she did not hesitate before saying “yes.”
The 20-year-old will soon travel to Duke University Medical Center where she will donate bone marrow to her 18-year-old brother Matt Rucker who has been diagnosed with Aplastic anemia.
It is a disease in which the bone marrow, and the blood stem cells that reside there, are damaged. This causes a deficiency of all three blood cell types.
Rucker, an avid guitarist who played in the band at Georgetown Pentecostal Holiness Church, found out he had the disease this past spring after an incident at Georgetown High School.
His mother, Shannan Rucker, said her son was punched in the face by another student resulting in a broken nose.
It was his senior year and his first year at Georgetown High. He had previously been home schooled.
When he was taken to the doctor to be treated for the injury, tests that were conducted showed he had the rare disease.
Medical procedures began which included frequent blood transfusions.
“They have been trying to see if they could turn it around,” said his father, Rick Rucker, said this week.
plastic anemia is a disease that is still very uncommon, although there has been an uptick in cases in recent years, Mr. Rucker said.
Any child who has had chicken pox or any who eat or drink using the same cups or utensils of another can get the disease, said Rucker.
“This could happen to any teen,” he said.

Transplant the best option

 Mr. Rucker said when the repeated transfusions did not work on his son, the decision was made to proceed with the bone marrow transplant.
Duke Medical Center does not test parents of patients to see if they are a marrow match, said Rachel Rucker, but they do test siblings.
She said it was “overwhelming” when she found out, after numerous tests, she is a perfect match for her brother.
“She is a giver,” Mr. Rucker said of his daughter’s willingness to make the sacrifice for her brother.
He said once Matt enters the hospital, he is expected to be there at least three months.
Rachel Rucker said her part of the procedure is outpatient but she will have to return the next day for a checkup.
“I have no doubt this will turn out fine,” she said. “I am 99 percent sure it will be effective.”
Doctors have said if the transplant works as expected, no other procedures will be needed, Ms. Rucker said of her brother.

Costs mounting

 The procedures Matt has had to undergo – and the upcoming transplant – are very costly.
Mr. Rucker said his son is covered under the family’s insurance policy but, of course, there are a lot of expenses the medical plan does not cover.
He said the cost of the transplant is estimated at $700,000. Right now, it is unknown exactly how much the family will have to pay.
The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) has set up a web page for anyone who would like to make a donation to help the Rucker family.
“It has been very encouraging,” Rachel Rucker said of the support the family has received to this point.

By Scott Harper


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