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Hundreds Turn Out To Help Caleb Hammond Fight Leukemia

By Ellis Codjoe, April 18, 2017

Hundreds of people turned out Friday to help a young Oskaloosan fight cancer.

Last December, nine year old Caleb hammond began to feel a lot of pain in his legs. Doctors initially thought Caleb was simply going through growing pains.

It wasn’t until February 6th that Caleb was diagnosed with luekemia. Since then, the young cancer warrior has undergone bone marrow draws, spinal taps and lots of chemotherapy.

Caleb needs a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, finding a match is difficult. In fact, more than 70% of bone marrow patients cannot find a match within their family. Caleb is a part of that majority.

Caleb’s family contacted the Iowa Marrow Donor Program to begin searching for an unrelated donor. Caleb’s aunt, Heather Jones of Ottumwa, says many people may not be aware of the marrow donor program. She says the process of donating marrow to a child is fairly painless.

When donating to a child, doctors must take whole marrow from the donor’s pelvis. Colleen Reardon with the Iowa Marrow Donor Program says the donor will be under anesthetic while the operation is performed. Potential donors can often be scared away, fearing the pain associated with the surgery. However, Reardon says donors usually report only a dull ache, not the shooting pain that some expect.

Donating to adults involves even less pain. “It’s like taking a double unit of blood,” Reardon told Ottumwa Radio news. Donors are taken to a local blood donation center where their blood is drawn. Scientists and Doctors then use the blood to extract stem cells. The stem cells are then given to the adult leukemia patient.

The program pays for all of the costs for the donor.

More than 100 people turned out for an event Friday to register to become a bone marrow donor. More than 350 others registered online through Caleb’s registration page. The potential donors gave cheek swabs for DNA and filled out paperwork with the Iowa Marrow Donor Program.

The 464 registrants will be checked to see if they match Caleb or any other patient on the donor registry. Statistically, a patient will match only one in every 540 registered donors.

Donors must be between 18 and 44 years of age and meet other criteria.

Meanwhile, the Hammond family continues to hold fund raisers in hopes of helping to pay for some of the costly procedures.

The Hammond family will hold a dinner and silent auction at the Elks Club on Iowa Avenue in Ottumwa. The event is planned for July 8th from 5-10PM.

The Southeast Iowa Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will also donate some of the proceeds from their May 20th poker run to the Hammond family.

The Hammond family has set up a facebook page to help spread awareness and news of his progress.

Potential donors can register at to help someone fight cancer.

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