Saturday night The Magnolia Independent Film Festival showed “In Our Bones,” a documentary that essentially saved the life of a Starkville man.
Alex Kimura directed “In Our Bones,” a tale of her sister, Sam Kimura who was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of blood-forming tissues, and decided to go on a road trip around America to find a donor match.
Alex and Sam’s best friend, Taylor Shorten also embarked on the year long journey.
“So they went all across the world looking for donors and didn’t find one for her, but one of the ones that they found was a match for my husband who had leukemia,” Melissa Rich said.
According to Institute for Justice. org, less than 2 percent of the United States population are listed on the bone marrow registry.
In the film, the girls drove 24,000 miles to register thousands of diverse individuals in an attempt to save Sam’s life.
“They went to all 50 states with a goal of signing up 50,000 donors,” Melissa’s husband Caleb Rich said.
After signing up more than 20,000 donors, there were approximately 400 matches for people currently waiting.
Of all patients in need of a bone marrow transplant, 30 percent have a matching donor in their families. The remaining 70 percent must hope a compatible stranger can be located in the national registry.
“They went ahead and documented because there’s no telling of what might happen,” Caleb said.
Sam and Alex documented enough footage on their voyage to use in the film “In Our Bones.”
Caleb was diagnosed with leukemia May 2012, and found out that he needed a transplant May 2013.
Caleb’s donor, John, was within the hundreds that the girls found and registered, and maintained contact with throughout their journey.
“They went through the odds of finding a match in the time frame they were looking at, and he was what they consider a perfect match,” Caleb said.
One in 300 are found to be a perfect match.
One out of 430 decide to pursue the process of donating.
As Alex and Sam were wrapping up the documentary, they decided that a recipient-donor meeting was something they definitely wanted to record.
“He (John) donated to us and we went to meet him in San Francisco,” she added.
The meeting is how Caleb and Melissa were featured in “In Our Bones.”
It was the greatest feeling in the world for Caleb to meet the person who saved his life.
“We were bawling crying because this guy saved my life,” Caleb said.
On Sept. 25, 2013 Caleb underwent a stem cell transplant thanks to John.
“My favorite part of the movie is not that we’re in it, but the fact that it clarifies a stem cell transplant and a bone marrow transplant are essentially the same thing. And they’re not invasive,” Melissa said. “Giving stem cells is just like giving blood.”
However, John didn’t realize how big of an impact he had on Caleb’s life.
It didn’t register to him that he was a miraculous match for Caleb, and he shrugged it off.
“In Our Bones” gives insight on the impact donors have on the lives of those out there waiting on a transplant.
“There’s so much stigma behind being a bone donor and it being a painful ordeal and it’s not,” Caleb said.
The couple attended The Magnolia Independent Film Festival on behalf of Alex, Sam and John to push the film forward.
“It’s personal. It’s very emotional,” Caleb said.
“Just taking that one step could save somebody’s life. And 10 or 20 years from now, 40 years from now I mean they could be our next president, a person who finds a cure for some stuff,” Caleb added.
“In Our Bones” was the Closing Night feature film for The Magnolia Independent Film Festival.
Caleb and Melissa set up a table to register as many as they could to be a donor.