Potential donors sought in bone marrow drive

gaylord2So many of our Omnitrans family of employees and passengers have big hearts and a deep caring for those in our community. Nowhere is that more evident than when one of us is in need.

In February 2015, Rialto resident and retired Omnitrans coach operator Gaylord Hicks was diagnosed with MDS, a rare form of blood cancer. This loving dad and granddad is now fighting for his life, in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Attempts to identify a match from siblings and the National Bone Marrow Registry have been unsuccessful.

gaylord1Last month, several Omnitrans employees volunteered to be tested as a possible bone marrow donor in the hope that they would be able to help save Gaylord’s life or lives of others in need. The test is so simple. Just a quick swab inside your cheek can determine if you are a match to provide a lifesaving transplant .

Omnitrans HR Assistant Jennifer Villalobos was one of those who were tested as a possible match.

“If I’m not a match for Gaylord, my screening will stay in the system and I could be matched with someone years later,” she explains.  “How could I not give up a little convenience for someone experiencing the fight to live?  Donating could be the most significant thing I do in life, the greatest gift one can give.  And I’d do it again.”

Gaylord Hicks and wife Sheila in 2013
Gaylord Hicks and wife Sheila in 2013

Family friend and Omnitrans coach operator Debra Downton feels the same way. “Gaylord is a great man who always goes out of his way for others,” she says. “He has such a big heart. When I first moved out here, he took me under his wing because I have no family. He still checks up on me to make sure I’m doing alright. I call him Big Daddy because he’s always doing for other people and doesn’t like to have people do for him. Even now, he never complains. When I ask how he is, he just says ‘I’m okay, I’m okay. Just a little tired.’ He is a wonderful man, and we are all so grateful for the kindness and support of people who are reaching out to help him.”

Bone Marrow Drive to be held May 30th 
On Saturday, May 30th from 10:00 – 4:00, a Bone Marrow Drive will be held at 505 N. Arrowhead, Suite 505/505a in San Bernardino. Those interested are invited to attend, enjoy free refreshments, and be tested as a possible bone marrow donor for Gaylord or others. For more information on this event, please contact Gayla Hicks-Wheeler at gayla626@aol.com.

swabIn addition to bone marrow donation, umbilical cord donation can also be a cure for someone with MDS or other forms of blood cancer.

To learn more about blood cancer and the different ways you can help, please visit http://bethematch.org.

-Juno Kughler Carlson

2 thoughts on “Potential donors sought in bone marrow drive

  1. Gaylord Hicks something familiar about that name OMG The bus driver
    I met him in 1999 I never knew he was sick I,m going to his house and to his hospital to see if i can donate . He is a good guy always trying to help someone.
    Well may be we can help him it is worth a shot. Not many people like him.

    God Bless You sir
    Willie Jonson your best friends cousin
    Mark Tucker (909) 472-8364

  2. Hello to all that have asked about Gaylord!! Thank you for reaching out and praying for my family. I would like to update his health with everyone. My father is doing okay. He is patiently waiting for a bone marrow match. He is a little tired, but always in good spirits. He recently had a visit from his brother and sister from Columbus, OH. He really enjoyed spending time with them. As we wait for a bone marrow match, we make sure that we spent as much time together with laughter and sometimes tears. I encourage all to swab to save a life and educate others who are unaware.

    Thank You
    His Daughter
    Gayla Wheeler

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