They have never met, but two young Ventura County men are hoping for the same miracle -- a chance at a longer life through the kindness of friends and strangers.
Doctors have told David Dodge of Ventura and Alberto Calero of Simi Valley that they need bone-marrow transplants to help fight off leukemia, a cancer that attacks white blood cells.
The transplant usually must come from someone genetically similar, but neither the 22-year-old Dodge nor the 21-year-old Calero has a relative who is a match. So both have turned to the National Marrow Donor Program.
Last weekend, 138 people registered in Simi Valley, where Calero lives with his family. Born and raised in Simi Valley, he had been attending Moorpark College to become a nurse before his leukemia recurred in January.
Calero's mother, Linda Brown, a nursing assistant, was thrilled with the turnout Saturday at St. Rose of Lima Church.
"Some people I knew, some people Alberto knew, but most of them were just very nice people who wanted to help," she said.
Dodge grew up in Ventura and was a student at UC Santa Barbara when his illness recurred. He returned home Wednesday night after a month of treatment at UCLA Medical Center.
This Saturday, a drive will be held at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, where Dodge was born.
"It's so easy. It's just a simple finger stick," said Dodge's father, Robert, a physician. "It's never been easier to help save a life."
Test results are available in about a month.
Even though David Dodge and Alberto Calero have never met, their parents know of one another and know that help can come from anywhere.
"People don't necessarily recognize that, for her son last week and David now, each of the drives helps" by getting more people onto the national registry, Robert Dodge said.
Linda Brown shared that feeling. "Last week, there could have been a match for David, and maybe this weekend there will be a match for my son," she said.
The marrow drive will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the eighth-floor auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura. There is no charge to be tested, although monetary and blood donations will be accepted. Walk-ins are welcome, but to make an appointment, call 654-8104 or (800) 715-3699.
Marrow drives will also be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 12 at Albertsons Supermarket at 2401 Saviers Road in Oxnard; from 4 to 6 p.m. June 28 at Super A Foods at 725 W. Ventura St. in Fillmore; and from 4 to 6 p.m. June 28 at the Tresierres market at 280 E. Harvard Blvd. in Santa Paula.