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Regina Carter; Bone Marrow Program Volunteer

Santa Paula resident Regina Carter, a homemaker and volunteer for a bone marrow donor program, died Tuesday at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte of liver failure stemming from complications from leukemia. She was 29.

On Dec. 10 at the hospital, Carter had a bone marrow transplant that was declared a success on Christmas Eve, said Lynnette Chandler, her friend and regional coordinator for the National Marrow Donor Program.

However, Carter suffered liver and lung infections that eventually took her life. The complications stemmed from an initial bone marrow transplant she received after being diagnosed with leukemia on Thanksgiving Day 1992, Chandler said. Carter died about 5:30 p.m., surrounded by about 20 relatives and friends.

“She worked a bone marrow drive on the first of December, and on the second of December she went into the City of Hope for her bone marrow transplant--that was the kind of woman she was,” Chandler said. “This lady has impacted so many people’s lives. . . . I’ve been taking phone calls all day from people who are just in shock.”

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Carter was born March 14, 1966, and had lived in Ventura County since she was 16, when she was adopted by a local family.

A county corrections officer for many years, she also served with her San Luis Obispo-based National Guard unit in Operation Desert Storm and during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

A foundation formed in her name to find a suitable donor held several fund-raising drives in Ventura in 1993.

The initial search proved unsuccessful, and doctors used Carter’s own bone marrow to essentially give herself a transplant, Chandler said.

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“It seemed to take and keep her healthy for almost two years, but last year her leukemia started showing up again,” she said.

After her diagnosis, Carter became active with several groups, including Children for Tomorrow, the local branch of the National Marrow Donor Program that recruits and registers potential donors.

One of 117 regional patients seeking a marrow donor, Carter volunteered to work at all 13 bone marrow drives held in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties last year, Chandler said. The group tested more than 6,000 people.

She also volunteered for Friends of the Wildlife, which takes in hurt and abandoned animals, and with the Southern Baptist Church of Santa Paula.

April Fool’s Day was her favorite day of the year, Chandler said.

“This lady could pull a joke on any person, any place and make them laugh,” she said. “She wanted people around her to be happy and laugh and have a good time.”

Survivors include her husband of two years, John Norman, and two sons, Justin Carter and John Norman Jr.

Funeral arrangements are pending under the direction of Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, Santa Paula.

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