Community Hopes to Find Donor for Teacher With Leukemia

WILLOW SPRINGS, Mo. -- The town of Willow Springs is taking a test for a second grade teacher battling leukemia. Friday night neighbors swabbed their cheeks to be entered into a registry for bone marrow donors.

KOLR10 met the family, to find out what the test results could mean. No matter the results, this teacher is happy about the people who showed up to take a voluntary test.

"I was just working in my classroom, getting ready for school to start, you know, school was gonna start in just a couple days, and that's when I got the call," Breanna Lovan said.

Lovan is sitting out on what would've been her fourth year teaching second grade in Willow Springs.

"I got a call from the doctor that I had been seeing, that I had leukemia, and I needed to go to St. Louis," Lovan said.

Despite usually being the one in front of the chalkboard, her husband Jeff says she's taking a turn at being the class favorite.

"I give her a hard time that she's kind of a teacher's pet up there because all the nurses love her," he said.

Except this isn't a class anyone would willingly take.

"The kind of leukemia is kind of aggressive," Lovan said. "Without a bone marrow transplant, I would probably relapse at some point."

Her neighbors swabbed their cheeks Friday night to be registered with DKMS, an international organization that helps match blood cancer patients with stem cell donors.

"They're hoping to find a match for me," Lovan said. "Chances are they won't, just in a small town like this, but if it can help someone on the registry who needs a transplant, then that would be great."

When she left her first month-long stint at the hospital in St. Louis, the nurses threw a huge celebration.

"For lack of better terms, you're kind of staring down the barrel of the gun," he said. "And when you get to go home and you know that days are better, it was a really cool moment."

If she can cause such a commotion with a group of strangers, you better believe her hometown showed up to show support.

"In a town of 2,100 people, there was like 800 or 900 people in that little building right there," Lovan said, pointing behind him. "And it was one of the most humbling and moving moments of my life when I came around that corner on the road and this whole side was full of cars, this whole side was full of cars, and they were here for us."

He might call her a teacher's pet, but she has a different name for it.

"Very blessed," she said.

Their next step is finding a donor match. Of course, her family was first in line to be tested. Family told KOLR10 that her brother is about a 50% match. Actually, 70% of people must rely on donors outside of their family for a transplant.

The good news is  that a potential match doesn't have to be a 100% fit. Those who registered with DKMS Friday, will wait 30 days before getting their results in the mail to find out if they are a potential match for anyone in the registry.


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