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Child's story spurs Sooners to help marrow donation program

By Ray Martin Modified: August 7, 2008 at 11:38 am •  Published: August 7, 2008
NORMAN — Tallie Anderson was elated during Oklahoma's media day.

The 10-year-old Sooner fan from Shawnee got to meet OU coach Bob Stoops, one of her heroes.

One day, Stoops could also be the one to save Anderson's life.

Stoops was among 84 players, coaches, athletic staff and media members who donated DNA samples Wednesday that will be used in the National Marrow Donor Program database that determines potential bone marrow donors for patients like Anderson.

Anderson has severe aplastic anemia, a disease in which the immune system malfunctions and destroys its own bone marrow.

"I thanks everyone,” Anderson said. "This is a dream come true to be here and meet the players and coach Stoops.”

Anderson has been in and out of the hospital for the last year receiving standard treatments with immunosuppressants — drugs that alter the activity of the immune system. But those treatments have been ineffective so far, and if a final round fails, she'll likely have to undergo a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.

Stoops initiated the program with OU's Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children — the only center in Oklahoma that offers bone marrow transplants to kids. He said he got the idea while reading an article in a scholastic magazine about Wagner College raising bone marrow awareness.

"Reading the article on Wagner, I thought, ‘We've got a lot of strong, healthy young guys, if they're willing to do it,'” Stoops said. "So we just informed them, that if they wanted to, there would be this opportunity. If more and more of the public did it, people would have to wait less time. Some people probably never find matches. We're just trying to assist that way.”

Roger Anderson, Tallie's father, said Stoops saw Tallie on a local television station and immediately called and said he wanted to help.

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