FAIRFIELD — Gurjeet Kaur Dosanjh-Brar led a happy, healthy – albeit busy – life as a wife, mother of three boys and business owner living in Solano County.
But in 2010, Brar started coming down with illnesses such as shingles, swelling, soreness and rashes. Doctors found enlarged lymph nodes and high white blood cell counts, but for the next two years Dosanjh-Brar went undiagnosed.
Initially in 2011, the National Institute of Health diagnosed Dosanjh-Brar with hypereosinophilia, a blood disease. In October 2012, doctors dubbed the problem T-cell lymphoma, or lymphatic cancer.
In November, Dosanjh-Brar immediately started aggressive chemotherapy treatments, said her sister Sharan Sandhu. But just last week, the family received some disheartening news: Brar needed a bone marrow match – and fast.
Understanding the severity of Dosanjh-Brar’s situation, Sandhu, their brother Sunny Dosanjh, and the rest of the family leapt into action to find Brar a suitable blood donor.
Within a week, the family set up several bone marrow drives at Sikh temples across California – even a few out-of-state.
People of the same race are more likely to be a bone marrow match, said Sandhu, but unfortunately there are few donors of Punjabi descent.
The Guru Nanak Sikh temple of Fairfield as well as the Sikh Gurdwara Sahib temple of Sacramento hosted blood drives Sunday in hopes of drawing a large crowd.
Congregants of the Fairfield temple were signing up in droves to be tested as a potential bone marrow donor.
“Sikh people believe in volunteering,” Sandhu said. “This is encouraging.”
Even if they aren’t a match for Dosanjh-Brar, Sandhu said potential donors can be matched with recipients from around the world through the organization Be The Match.
Brar, Sandhu and Dosanjh, all members of the local temple, were happy to see such an overwhelming response from the Sikh community.
Sikh and non-Sikh people came from as far as San Francisco to donate, Sandhu said. And several temples have contacted her offering to help.
“This (response) has given her a lot of hope,” Sandhu said.
Several Sikh temples are offering bone marrow testing next Sunday and Jan. 20. Testing involves a swabbing to collect cheek cells in the mouth. When a match is found, about 3 to 5 percent of the donor’s blood is extracted.
For the full schedule of bone marrow drives or to learn more about Dosanjh-Brar, visit www.helpgurjeet.com.
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.