Bones prove source of unlikely family gift

Bones prove source of unlikely family gift

by Shelly Zeller

A Simpson student recently found out not only what it was like to have a brother diagnosed with Leukemia, but what it is to be the person to help save his life.

“Ever since the first day my brother Kris was in the hospital, I knew I would do anything to help save his life,” said junior Katy Langgaard.

According to Langgaard, there was a 20 percent chance one of her five family members would match bone marrow with her brother. Neither her mom, dad or younger brother, Neil, had equivalent test results, but Katie’s test came back positive, leaving her the lone donor for her brother.

“I’ve never seen my dad cry before,” said Langgaard. “Until he found out I could donate.”

According to Langgaard, now all she can do is wait. Her brother has gone through two rounds of chemotherapy and has one more to go. This last round is when he receives her bone marrow.

“He’s in the hospital right now in a positive air flow room,” said Langgaard. “He has to stay there until his blood count comes back up. He’ll get to go home for a week before going to Minneapolis, where the treatment will take place.”

The procedure Langgaard goes through is anything but trouble-free. She will need to leave campus for two weeks. The first week she will be receiving a drug to increase her stem cell count and the second week is when she undergoes the procedure.

“They will hook me up to a machine that takes out stem cells and then replaces my blood back into my body,” said Langgaard. “It will take two hours at a time, four times a day over the period of two days. They hook up both of my arms, a lot like giving blood.”

Although this is not an easy procedure, according to Langgaard it’s not going to be very painful.

“I’m not worried about the pain,” she said. “All I have to do is put myself in other people’s shoes. If I were the one sick, I’d want them to donate and help me.”

Although she won’t know until the time comes when she’ll need to take this leave from Simpson, her professors seem to be very understanding.

“The professors are good about knowing that I need to leave,” said Langgaard. “I told them right away on the first day of classes what was going on.”

Having a lot on her mind, Langgaard knows her worries are much less than her parents.

“My mom and dad stay at the hospital and take turns so one of them is there at all times,” she said. “They are great for him.”

Coming from a community of only about 2,000 people, their neighbors have been active in helping out her family. According to Langgaard, they have raised over $13,000 for her brother.

“The town churches held a meal, the community hosted a basketball tournament and Kris’s 4-H club has also raised money for his treatment,” Langgaard said.

And to make things even more challenging, Langgaard lives on a farm where there are always chores to be done. “The community helps my dad with his fieldwork,” said Langgaard. “One time I saw four tractors in a field. They are able to get things done in minimal time.”

According to Langgaard, this summer was stressful on the whole family and all of them are looking forward for Kris’s last treatment.

“I’m very excited about donating my bone marrow to Kris,” said Langgaard. “It has lasted all summer and I can’t wait to get done and have Kris go back to school second semester as a senior.”

After an emotionally packed summer and lots of stress, Langgaard said she would do the process for anyone, not only her own brother.

“I would be willing to do this to help anyone, to save a life is something more than anyone can explain.”