STARKVILLE • Two-year-old Mason Murphy and his family stepped onto Scott Field to say a special thank you to Bulldog nation Saturday.
The West Point toddler, who is the son of Alicia Cherry and Mississippi State safety Marcus Murphy, was born with a genetic abnormality and will need a bone marrow transplant in the future to have the best chance to thrive.
The university family has rallied around efforts to expand the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Coach Joe Moorehead recorded a public service announcement urging Bulldog fans to step up and join the registry. The family was recognized during the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Kentucky.
“Mason truly has a village,” Cherry said. “West Point has supported us completely and Mississippi State has supported us completely.”
Mississippi State is in its second year of a partnership with Be the Match, the national campaign for the bone marrow donor registry. It’s part of a larger partnership between the registry and Learfield IMG College, which holds the multi-media rights for MSU sports.
“It’s not just to help Mason, but increase the number of donors on the registry so we can help more people,” said Ann Brett Gillespie Strickland, general manager for MSU Bulldog Sports.
The advocacy by Mason’s family and Mississippi State have really increased the awareness of the bone marrow registry, said Dan Gariepy, an account manager with Be the Match. Student athletes have helped with registry drives on campus.
“I think Mason has been responsible for thousands and thousands to join the registry,” Gariepy said.
Signing up for the registry is fairly simple. Potential donors swab their cheeks and mail the sample off. The registry will contact potential donors if they match a patient in need. In 80 percent of cases, the actual donation is completed using a process similar to donating platelets and plasma.
More information on donor requirements and requesting kits is available at bethematch.org/bulldogs.
Mason was diagnosed with a genetic abnormality at seven months after his family noticed he wasn’t gaining weight and meeting developmental milestones. He was born without Chromosome 7, a condition puts him at risk of myelodysplastic syndrome – where red blood cells are poorly formed and don’t function well – and acute myeloid leukemia.
A check up last fall found his bone marrow showed signs of myelodysplastic syndrome, but he hadn’t developed leukemia. Through this summer, Mason’s condition has remained stable and he doesn’t immediately need a bone marrow transplant, Cherry said. No one in his family is a match for him, and Mason will need help through the registry.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Cherry said, that there will be a match for Mason when the time comes.
Mason has overcome his initial problems with gaining weight and catching up on missed milestones. He is busy mimicking everything family members say, Cherry said. He’s learning to walk with the help of therapy.
“He’s so active,” Cherry said. “Considering where we came from, he’s doing very good.”