CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. - With just a minute long swab of the cheek, one person can be given a second chance at life. That is what brought dozens of of residents to the Chincoteague Community Center Saturday afternoon.
It was all part of a bone marrow drive held in honor of 9 year old Brianna Merritt. Brianna was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia last November and now needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life.
Brianna's grandfather Joshua Murray remembers the day he heard the diagnosis.
"Oh shocked, just overwhelmed… I wouldn't wish it on anybody," says Murray.
Murray tells us Brianna is currently undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins. In the meantime her family and friends have partnered with DKMS, which is an international non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors in order to help patients in need of a transplant.
Brittany Adams, who is a friend of the family says Saturday's drive was Brianna's idea.
"She wanted her local community to help out. So that's what were are doing," says Adams.
Although Brianna was not able to attend Saturday's bone marrow drive, her positive attitude and lively spirit was felt amongst community members.
"She excelled at anything that she did, whether it was karate, baseball, on and off the field she was great ," says Adams.
DKMS volunteers tell 47 ABC Saturday's drive does not guarantee a match for Brianna, however it can help many others who are also fighting for their lives.
"A donor hopefully will come out of this for her, but if it does not at least it will come out for another person that is something I know Brianna would have wanted," says Ashley Bell, a friend of the family.
The next bone marrow drive will take place March 31st at Showell Elementary in Berlin, MD from 5-9 PM.
For more information on DKMS click here.