Swab Fest organizers hope to save lives

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In spite of the pending rain, Thursday is an opportunity to help someone fighting cancer beat it.

It’s being called Swab Fest. and it’s an effort to get more people to sign up to be stem cell donors on the national registry.

The festival was organized to try and find a match for Austinite Brady Oman, 61,  who found out he had leukemia at the beginning of the year.

“He is on his fourth round of chemo and in desperate need of a stem cell transplant,” said Susan Wise, Brady Oman’s partner.

Before Oman ended up at MD Anderson battling leukemia he thought in January a bad cold wouldn’t go away.

Within days he ended up at the hospital thinking it was a heart attack because he couldn’t breathe or see well.

“They said good news you didn’t have a heart attack, bad news normal high for white blood cell is 10,000 and yours is 190,000 you have leukemia and it was all in one sentence,” said Wise.

So far the chemo has saved his life but the clock is ticking and he needs to find a stem cell donor fast.

“It’s really his only chance for long term remission,” said Wise.

Enter Swab Fest.

“It literally takes five minutes,” said Katherine Kuntz, Started Longhorn Chapter of the non-profit Delete Blood Cancer.

Katherine Kuntz started the UT chapter of the non-profit called Delete Blood Cancer.  An organization dedicated to registering stem cell donors.

“They take a little cotton swab, they swab both inside of your cheeks, it gets mailed off to the national bone marrow registry and you are put in the data base,” said Kuntz.

They hope to swab more than 2,000 people Thursday.  The goal is to beat the record of 2,020 that happened in Dallas.

And even if Brady doesn’t find a match Swab Fest may just save someone else.

“It’s not just for him it’s trying to get the biggest Swab Fest in a day in Texas for a reason for other people and I think that’s a big part for him to help other people and good things come back,” said Jack Oman, Brady’s Son.

Those interested in getting swabbed can go to Fifth and Colorado between 11a.m. and 9p.m.  It’s free and a different band will play each hour.

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