Local Suncoast man continues search for bone marrow donor 4 years after diagnosis
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The first thing you’ll notice about Ferruh Muktar is his optimism, the second thing is his fighting spirit.
Ferruh was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called myelofibrosis back in March of 2018. The only known cure for the cancer is a stem cell transplant. Four and a half years later after his initial diagnosis, Ferruh is still without a match.
Born in Turkey, a country known for its rich multiculturalism, Ferruh’s unique challenge has been finding an exact DNA match. Typically the best donors for stem cell transplants are blood-related, but being an only child of an only child and having no children of his own, Ferruh and his wife Susan had to get creative in their search efforts.
The couple traveled to Turkish embassies around the globe searching for their Mediterranean and Middle East connections in hopes to broaden the database of donors.
“Many diseases can be cured or minimized by someone else’s stem cells. And the process to do that is so simple and easy, it’s a cheek swab with a q-tip that’s how you get into the registry. If you’re found to be a match it’s a simple blood draw.” explains Susan Robinson, Ferruh’s wife.
“Team Ferruh” is a group comprised of Ferruh and Susan’s closest friends who are subject matter experts and bring different skill sets to the table to discuss new strategies and how to recruit more swabs.
“Our efforts now are to target college campuses. We’re starting in the state of Florida and then we’ll take that nationally to target fraternal organizations, sororities, and student groups that have the same ethnic profile as Ferruh” says Jeff Heartling, member of Team Ferruh and Executive Director of Marrow Mates.
The team’s main objective is to find a match for Ferruh, but if their efforts can become life-saving for others in similar positions they are motivated to serve a larger purpose.
To date, the group has found two other searching patients that have been identified as perfect matches.
For more information about joining any of the 53 registries around the world visit Marrowmates.org or text MarrowMates to 61474.
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