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May 5, 2010
MARYVILLE, Mo. - A former Northwest student-athlete is in need of a donor stem cell transplant as he battles stage 3 multiple myeloma.
Mel Tyler, who earned his bachelor's in 1980 and his master's in 1985, both from Northwest, was a standout in basketball and track and field as a Bearcat. Today, Tyler is vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In October, he will be honored by Northwest with a Distinguished Alumni Award.
Tyler has spent his entire professional career in education, serving in various roles coaching and assisting students at both the secondary and post-secondary level. He started his career at Central High School in St. Joseph before joining Missouri Western State University where he served as assistant dean of students, assistant basketball coach and assistant director of admissions.
In April 2009, Tyler was diagnosed with stage 3 multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells present in bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make antibodies to help fight infections, but multiple myeloma causes a group of abnormal plasma cells to multiply, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. Since these cells normally make proteins, the level of abnormal proteins in the blood also may increase. Health problems caused by multiple myeloma can affect the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.
Tyler has undergone two stem cell transplants, using his own stem cells and many rounds of chemotherapy in an effort to put the cancer in remission. His physicians have indicated he will likely need a donor stem cell transplant, but there is no match for him in the national registry.
The National Marrow Donor Program (www.bethematch.org) indicates that because tissue types are inherited, patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity. Registry members for diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are especially needed so every patient has a second chance at life. Tyler was told that because he is African American, there is about a 15 percent chance that he could find a match. Registry members of these backgrounds are urgently needed:
Joining the registry is as simple as getting a check swab to see if you might be a match. For those who are unable to join the registry, other ways to help include:
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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