SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — Keith Meter was a veteran California Highway Patrol officer in what appeared to be great health when he got his first hint that something wasn’t right.
Meter was attempting to donate bone marrow to an 8-year-old girl — he was contacted that they were a match — but was told his blood levels were too low to meet donor requirements.
“I ignored the fact that they told me to go to the doctor,” said Meter, an 18-year CHP veteran. “I felt fine.”
But it was the first in a series of events that would lead to his diagnosis with myelodysplastic syndrome, an aggressive form of bone-marrow cancer.
His condition became clearer last year, when Meter suffered a mountain biking crash, triggering shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting spells.
When he sought further treatment, doctors found that he had less than half of the blood needed in his body.
Doctors ordered a blood transfusion and a bone marrow biopsy. He was subsequently diagnosed with MDS.
Now, Meter’s fellow officers are rallying the community in the hopes of finding a donor to donate blood marrow to Meter.
They’re organizing a series of bone marrow registration drives across the state, including three in Orange County: March 15, 16, 17. Prospective donors can be vetted with a simple cheek swab.
Bone marrow transplants are considered the best hope for treating Meter’s form of cancer. Still, recipients run the risk of infections, rejection and organ damage.
Meter is also receiving chemotherapy treatment and has been unable to continue his work as an officer.
“There’s no cure for what I have,” Meter said. “The only cure would be to get the bone marrow transplant.”
Prospective donors can register on the “Be The Match” website.
Click here for more information on the registration drive.