Hundreds Register to Donate Bone Marrow for Topeka Girl

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TOPEKA, Kan. - Dave Seidel had the opportunity to meet, and thank, many people in the northeast Kansas community at a bone marrow drive in honor of his 12 year old daughter, Jessica.

Dorothy Moore drove from Fort Riley Wednesday morning to register and see if she is a match for Jessica, who needs a bone marrow transplant.

"If this was my grandchild, I'd want everybody trying to help them," Moore said. Because she is 61, Moore just missed the cut-off age to donate by one year. Instead, she donated the $25 fee for someone who qualifies to register.

The drive was organized by some of Jessica's former teachers at Jay Shideler Elementary, and a swim group at the YMCA known as the Yellow Duckie group.

Cindi Gish is a member of the group who registered as a donor and volunteered to help out with the drive. She met Jessica in October of 2008. "When I met her at the hospital she was very quiet and so sweet," Gish said. "She sure was very grateful we came by to see her."

Gish, like many others who went to the bone marrow drive, was inspired by Jessica to register as a bone marrow donor, whether they are able to help her or someone in her shoes. "If it doesn't match for her, I hope that sometime in the future they'll contact me and I may be a donor for somebody else."

Patti Bossert of Key Staffing has an idea what it's like to be in the Seidel's position. She met the family because her daughter, like Jessica, has Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis, and they all met in Boston when travelling for an event held for those close to the illness.

"I want to be there for them because I know that someday I may need somebody to be there for me," Bossert said. "So I just told the story to my employees and they signed up and said, 'Yeah we'll go over and do it.'" Bossert paid for their tests as extra incentive.

"The community really came together for us," Dave Seidel said. "It's amazing. There's a lot of good people out there."

Seidel said Jessica just finished 10 rounds of chemotherapy in eight weeks time with no success. "To have them walk in and say it failed... it was hard," he said. Jessica starts another eight weeks of chemotherapy in February.

"As a parent it's hard to sit and watch your child go through that," Seidel said. "My attitude is, she's still here. Some people, their children aren't. You just gotta put one foot in front of the other and keep going."

Jessica returned home from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City Wednesday afternoon. She'll get a couple weeks rest before going back to Kansas City for that next round of chemo. Jessica's mom, Leslie, travels and stays with her in Kansas City while David and their eight-year-old son, Jordan, stay in Topeka.

"They're always there and my son and I are here and he's always worried," Seidel said of Jordan. "How do you comfort and eight year old? I'm not going to tell him it'll be okay because I don't know."

Seidel said he and his family are grateful for the support of the community - financially, prayerfully and otherwise - during this incredibly tough time in their lives.

"Thanks to everybody who's come into our lives and helped us out one way or another," Seidel said. "I don't personally know how I could ever pay it back."

A fund is set up for the Seidel family at Heritage Bank, 3024 SW Wanamaker Road, Topeka, Kan. 66614. Donations can be mailed in or dropped off at the bank under the name David or Jessica Seidel.

For an update on Jessica's condition, visit her webpage at