The friends of a Lemon Heights woman with lymphoma have organized a bone-marrow drive today, in hopes they can find a match for a transplant operation that could save her life.
Colleen Jilio, 50, was diagnosed with cancer in December. For the past month and a half, doctors have searched the nation for someone with compatible marrow that could be transplanted into her system.
"There is a sense of urgency," said Jon Olsen, vice president of Jilio and Associates Certified Court Reporters, the business Jilio founded in 1984. A transplant "has been identified by the doctors as the only real hope for a cure."
"Meanwhile, they're throwing other things at her," trying chemotherapy and other treatments, he said.
Friends, family and co-workers organized a marrow screening from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Fairmont Private School, 12421 Newport Ave., Santa Ana, which the 8- and 7-year-old sons and 6-year-old daughter of Jilio and her husband, Superior Court Judge Gary P. Ryan, attend.
About 150 people have signed up, and more are being put on a list for future screenings.
"It's so neat to see people circle the wagons. It's a testimony to her as a person," said Olsen, who has known Jilio for 10 years. "She has been good to so many people, and has put forth assistance of time and money to so many different causes; in her time of need, it seems like a lot of people are responding to that."
Potential donors at the marrow screening will have two vials of blood drawn. Those will be sent to City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte for testing and registration in the National Marrow Donor Database, to determine if the donor's marrow is a match for Jilio or anyone in need.
"She wants to raise awareness, not only for herself, but for people with lymphoma all over the country," Olsen said.
Anyone who can't make it to the Fairmont School today can go for a marrow screening at any time without an appointment at the City of Hope Donor Center, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte. Call (626) 301-8386 for information.
A marrow drive also has been scheduled for Oct. 29 at Jilio and Associates, 3090 Bristol St., Suite 190, Costa Mesa.
Information: Krystal Emrick at (714) 432-1711.