Who will help Dominick LoCascio?
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Somewhere out there, someone just might have the bone marrow Dominick LoCascio desperately needs.
All he needs is for someone to step forward and be willing to donate it.
LoCascio, 60, of Dyker Heights, suffers from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, and is seeking a bone marrow transplant to save his life.
“He was diagnosed in April of 2013, almost a year ago. He is putting up a good fight, but he needs help,” his son Steven LoCascio told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The LoCascio family has organized a bone marrow donor drive, which they are calling “Swab for Dom,” to take place on Wednesday, March 19, at PS 102, 211 72nd St., in Bay Ridge, from 2-7 p.m. A blood drive in memory of Mathiew Johnson, a PS 102 school custodian who died of a heart attack last year, is taking place at the same location that day.
The “swab” in “Swab for Dom” refers to the way a person is tested for bone marrow. A technician uses a Q-Tip type of instrument to take a swab from inside a person’s mouth. “We take samples from four quadrants in the mouth,” said Jair Thompson, senior account executive at Be The Match, an organization that works to match bone marrow patients with donors.
The swabbing takes less than 10 minutes, Thompson told the Eagle.
Upon entry at the donor drive event, a participant will be required to fill out a medical screening form, along with their contact information.
Dominick LoCascio’s family members were tested, but unfortunately, no one was a match.
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue in the interior of bones and a match must be as close to perfect as possible.
“We’re hoping somebody has the right bone marrow for him. But even if they’re not a match for my father, maybe they can help someone else. The more the merrier,” Steven LoCascio said.
Each participant’s test results will be placed in a bone marrow registry for a possible future donation.
In order to be tested at the March 19 event, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 44. It’s not that those older than 44 are prohibited from donating bone marrow, but extra precautions would need to be taken, according to Thompson. “Anyone over 44 would have to register online and pay for the cost of tissue typing,” he said.
The reason for the age restriction is not to discriminate, Thompson said. It’s just that medical research has shown that cells from younger donors lead to better long-term survival for patients after transplant.
Dominick LoCascio owns SAS Maintenance Corporation, an architectural restoration company headquartered in Bath Beach. His sons work with him. “We restore metal, stone and wood. My father is an immigrant. He started the company years ago after he came to America,” Steven LoCascio said.
Multiple myeloma often causes bone frailty. That’s how Dominick LoCascio’s illness was discovered. “His back started hurting him all of a sudden. He was experiencing incredible back pain. We thought it was just a matter of going to a chiropractor. But when he went to the doctor and took a blood test, they found that he had cancer,” Steven LoCascio said.
Dominick has undergone rounds of chemotherapy and had stem cells removed and then replanted. A bone marrow transplant is his best hope for survival, his son said.
If a person screened on March 19 proves to be a match for a patient in need of bone marrow at some point in the future, he or she will be asked to donate the bone marrow.
There are two procedures by which bone marrow can be extracted from a donor, according to Thompson. One procedure is as simple as donating plasma. Doctors insert needles in both arms of the donor. This procedure is used in 76 percent of cases.
In 24 percent of cases, the bone marrow donation involves a surgical procedure that takes place in an operating room. Doctors will use needles to withdraw liquid marrow (where the body’s blood-forming cells are made) from both sides of the back of the pelvic bone, according to the Be the Match website. The donor is given general anesthesia and feels no pain during the donation, according to the website. After the donation, the liquid marrow is transported to the patient’s location for the transplant.
“This type of procedure is done when the bone marrow recipient is a child,” Thompson said.
The typical hospital stay for a marrow donor is from early morning to late afternoon, or occasionally overnight for observation.