Veteran FDNY hero still searching for life-saving donor match

Mira Wassef Staten Island Advance 

Jimmy Martinez’s family has held more than 20 bone marrow drives — from New York to North Carolina to Puerto Rico — in hopes of helping the veteran firefighter overcome his battle with multiple myeloma.

Jimmy N. Martinez hands out flyers encouraging people to become donors during a bone marrow drive for his father, Firefighter Jimmy Martinez, who suffers from multiple myeloma at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in New Dorp.(Staten Island Advance/Bill Lyons)

Jimmy N. Martinez hands out flyers encouraging people to become donors during a bone marrow drive for his father, Firefighter Jimmy Martinez, who suffers from multiple myeloma at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in New Dorp.(Staten Island Advance/Bill Lyons)

And while those drives have thankfully helped others, the family is still searching for a stem cell donor for Martinez, an Eltingville native who spent 24 years with the FDNY.

They will be hosting a bone marrow donor drive Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Peace R.C. Church, New Dorp.

“We’re just waiting for a match,” said his daughter Eileen Martinez. “We’re just trying to raise awareness because you don’t realize how important it is until it affects your family.”

Martinez, a 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy first responder, has chemotherapy every night and has already had a stem cell transplant using [h]is own cells, Ms. Martinez said. The next step is getting a stem cell transplant from a donor.

The father of three was diagnosed with the disease in June 2013.

“He’s doing OK,” she said. “Being a donor is not as scary as it sounds. You can join the registry and fill out contact info and take a 10-second cheek swab. You can save someone’s life.”

Ms. Martinez is also working with Delete Blood Cancer to help her father find his donor match.

By registering for the national bone marrow registry on Sunday, individuals can determine if they are a potential match for Martinez. The entire registration process takes less than five minutes.

If a match is identified, the donor is contacted and given two options about how to donate, including peripheral blood stem cell donation (which takes about 4-8 hours over 1-2 days) and marrow donation (which takes about 1-2 hours).

If you can’t make the drive but would like to find out more information, visit DeleteBloodCancer.org.

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