FALLS CITY – Falls City native Jacquelyn Polasek reflects on a selfless act of giving that touched her own life and gave hope to a five-year-old boy courageously fighting to overcome a disease that no child should have to fight.
Polasek received a call on May 30 from the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, informing her that she was a “perfect” match for a child suffering from chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), and that Polasek’s transplanted healthy bone marrow would give the child a good chance of survival and recovery.
CGD (also known as Bridges-Good syndrome) is a disorder that causes immune deficiency and prevents the immune system from properly protecting the body from foreign bacteria and fungi. Left untreated, CGD can cause death in young children. It is estimated that one in 200,000 Americans are affected by CGD.
Polasek’s name had been on the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for years, stemming from a time when her hometown of Falls City held a drive to try to find a bone marrow match for one of their own who was diagnosed with cancer.
“In August 2001, our small community in Falls City bonded together to host a bone marrow drive for a family friend, Jeffery Swierc,” said Polasek. “Jeffrey was diagnosed with cancer and fought a good fight. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a match for Jeffrey. I think of him often and know that it’s because of him that I was able to do this.”
Though Jeffrey Swierc passed away too soon, the past effort to save him planted the seed that would eventually give the hope of life and health to the five-year-old boy today, as Polasek’s bone marrow sample had stayed on the national registry.
Polasek did not hesitate to agree to go through the procedure in order to help the boy, and this past August underwent the operation to have her bone marrow harvested so that it could be eventually transplanted to the child.
“My marrow harvest lasted a little over an hour and I was back in my hotel room recovering within a few hours,” said Polasek of the procedure. “Other than the soreness in your lower back there was no real discomfort. It small price to pay. I worked from home and was back to work within two weeks.”
The literal giving of oneself so that another can have a chance at life is why Polasek believes in the importance of being a bone marrow donor.
“You have the chance to save someone’s life and be a part of something so incredible,” she said. “You can improve a person’s quality of life by a great extent after a successful transplant. I’d say that is a positive driving factor. It’s important to me that any person eligible to be a donor gets involved.”
Polasek recently received a positive update on the condition of the boy who was the recipient of her kindness.
“I actually just heard from my donation specialist. My recipient was released from the hospital last week. The marrow grafted and he is recovering, proceeding as expected according to doctors. He will be continuing his recovery from home. This is really amazing news and one step in the right direction. I cannot tell you what this news did to me. A sense of joy and warmth filled my heart; the overwhelming emotion is indescribable.”
Polasek was born and raised in Karnes County and is a 1999 graduate of Falls City High School. She currently works as a civilian contractor with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and now resides in Floresville, though she still has family in Karnes County.
“I grew up in Falls City and every single memory is a fond memory. Honestly, I had the greatest childhood and lived in the most amazing community,” said Polasek of her hometown.
Polasek will possibly get the chance to meet her donor recipient in a year if he is healthy and if his family agrees. Polasek says that her greatest satisfaction was that she was able to help give the boy and his family hope, even though there is still a long road of recovery ahead.
“Just knowing that I had the ability to help someone and to be part of a life-saving experience is by far one of my most incredible experiences,” Polasek concluded. “I cannot wait for the day that I can throw my arms around this boy and his parents.”