By Kathy Walsh
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)– An aspiring Eagle Scout in Littleton is encouraging people to “Be the Match.” Zach Mullen is hosting a bone marrow registry drive this Sunday.
It is his Eagle Scout project and it is personal. Zach’s father, Mike, has been battling leukemia.
Mike Mullen has run countless races. He has climbed 48 Colorado 14ers. But the challenge he faced in August 2016, seemed his most daunting.
“I started to feel really exhausted,” Mullen told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Tests showed he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Chemotherapy started immediately at the University of Colorado Hospital.
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“I was pretty much in the hospital after that for like 45 days,” explained the software developer.
Mullen was in remission. But in April 2017, 65 rounds of chemotherapy later, the leukemia was back. Mullen needed a bone marrow transplant. His brother, Rob, was a perfect match.
“I was extremely lucky,” said Mullen.
“For it to work out the way it did is just awesome,” said Zach, Mullen’s 15-year-old son.
Zach knows that is not always the case.
“There’s 14,000 people that don’t have that sibling match,” he said.
Zach hopes to give those people a chance. The teenager has been in scouting since first grade. For his Eagle Scout project, he is running a bone marrow registry drive.
“Getting on the registry is as simple as a cheek swab,” said Zach.
Mom, Maureen, is the first to sign up.
Zach will enroll as many people, ages 18 to 44, as possible.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Mike.
“If I can save one person’s life, that would be great,” said Zach.
The drive is Sunday, Nov. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Littleton United Methodist Church, 5894 S. Datura St., Littleton.
There is good news. Mike Mullen is 160 days out from transplant and shows no signs of leukemia.
For more information on Zach’s drive go to: https://join.bethematch.org/zmeaglescout.
You can also register to join the Be the Match Registry any time at any Bonfils community donor center.
In 2016, Bonfils’ Marrow program signed up more than 2,400 people in Colorado and Wyoming to the Be the Match Registry and facilitated 31 transplants. More information is at http://www.bonfils.org/marrow.
The Colorado Avalanche and UCHealth are offering cancer survivors and fans unique opportunities to join in the NHL/NHLPA’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer (HFC) initiative to honor those in the hockey community who have struggled or continue to struggle with the disease.
Mike Mullen will be in attendance with other cancer survivors Thursday at the Avalanche’s designated HFC game, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. against the Carolina Hurricanes at Pepsi Center. For more info, go to https://www.uchealth.org/landing/hockey-fights-cancer-avalanche/.