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Ironman Helps Those Needing Bone Marrow

  • By Triathlete.com
  • Published Jul 22, 2011

In honor of his wife, Pennsylvania man uses triathlon as platform for bone marrow awareness.

Triathlons have been part of Tom Kramer’s life since the early 1990s, and he’ll tackle the Ford Ironman Lake Placid on Sunday.

It takes a lot for him to swim, run and bike in the grueling competition. But compare that, he says, to what is faced by those with diseases requiring bone-marrow transplants.

“The pain that they go through is far worse than any discomfort we may go through,” he said.

That’s why in 2009 he created Racing to Register, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding bone-marrow donors.

Kramer, 45, knows what the pain is like because he lives with someone who has dealt with it for 13 years — his wife, Pam. She was diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia (ET), a blood disorder that causes an elevated number of blood platelets. The diagnosis came with a potentially devastating unknown.

“One of the potential risks of ET is it can convert to myelofibrosis, which is essentially a deterioration of the bone marrow,” Kramer said.

That’s what happened in Pam’s case; the only cure for the rare disease is a bone-marrow transplant.

Kramer will be racing for Pam this weekend, but also for all of those who need a marrow transplant. Racing to Register has led to 1,200 people getting tested and one match to a patient. Racing to Register has also led Kramer to look at his wife’s disease as a positive because without it, someone may still be searching for a donor.

Read more: Press Republican

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