Fairfield man fights to increase bone marrow donors

HARTFORD - Bone marrow transplants are used in treating more than 60 types of cancer, but finding a bone marrow donor can be difficult. And while the test to become a donor is simple, only a small percentage of people are on the National Bone Marrow Registry -- a Fairfield man is trying to change that.

On Jan. 8, 2005, Danny Lemos was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, for which the only real cure is a bone marrow transplant. Doctors tested his family but found no match.

In an effort to find a donor, Lemos held bone marrow drives, signing as many people to the national registry as possible and, in the process, learned that in Connecticut, bone marrow donor testing isn?t covered by insurance.

Lemos? frustration led him to Hartford to speak with legislators, hoping they would pass a law requiring insurance companies to cover bone marrow donor registration.

?We had raised this bill 280,? Lemos says. ?This is a bill to help people with cancer, to help cure people quickly of cancer.?

But at the end of the last legislative session, the bill never made it to the House floor. Politicians told Lemos they didn?t have time.

Lemos? cancer is now in remission and has been for over two years, but there?s a 70 percent chance he will relapse and need another transplant.

Lemos and other supporters of bill 280 have met with no success yet but will try again during the next legislative session.

Several neighboring states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have passed similar bills, and Lemos says New York is considering one.

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