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Student strives to save grandson’s life

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Yvonne Altieri-Postelmans (left) works at the Be the Match registry drive on Jan. 31 in Hammond.

Yvonne Altieri-Postelmans (left) works at the Be the Match registry drive on Jan. 31 in Hammond.

Towfiq Tofail

Towfiq Tofail

Yvonne Altieri-Postelmans (left) works at the Be the Match registry drive on Jan. 31 in Hammond.

Leah Medema, Arts & Leisure Writer

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Yvonne Altieri-Postelmans, a human resources student at PNW, said when she approaches people, she jumps at the opportunity to talk to them because she sees everyone’s potential to save a life.

After Altieri-Postelmans’ grandson, three-year-old C.J. Moreno of Whiting, was diagnosed with the rare blood disease Acute Myeloid Leukemia last October, she dropped everything and decided to take things into her own hands by becoming a volunteer ambassador for Be The Match, a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors and educates the community about bone marrow transplants.

As a representative of Be The Match, Altieri-Postelmans works alongside blood drive workers to hand out donor kits and tell her story to persuade hopeful donors. To date, Altieri-Postelmans has saved 396 lives with bone marrow donations because of her work.

Two months short of her graduation last semester, Altieri-Postelmans had to drop out due to her grandson’s sickness. After coming back this semester, Altieri-Postelmans sees school as an opportunity to further her message.

“I see school as an avenue for Be The Match,” Altieri-Postelmans said. “A university is like a melting pot of people who can be potential donors.”

Altieri-Postelmans attributes her success as an ambassador to the computer, English, finance and project management classes she has taken at PNW. She also sees school as an escape from her role as a grandmother, ambassador and full-time employee.

“When I walked in class the first day, my stress level dropped from a one-hundred to a ten,” she said.

Sheena McNeal, Be The Match’s Chicagoland community engagement representative, says that Altieri-Postelmans brings a lot of passion to the table as an ambassador.

“Yvonne connects to people with her story,” McNeal said. “The love of a grandmother surpasses all, and Yvonne truly shows that through her work.”

Altieri-Postelmans’ bone marrow kits contain four cotton swabs to swipe the mouth with, a consent form and an envelope to send the swabs in. Once they are in, the testing takes place and if there is a match, the results are sent within two months.

“The bone marrow transplant date for that mother, child or grandchild will become their new birth date,” Altieri-Postelmans said. “Once they meet that person, it is like he or she will become part of the family.”

While striving to save her grandson’s life, Altieri-Postelmans has saved several hundred others with her work as an ambassador, and since Be The Match reaches globally, some of those lives may have been on the other side of the world.

“I am going to toss and turn every rock I can to fight for a match for my little guy,” Altieri-Postelmans said. “If along the way, we find matches for other kids, that is one more life saved.”

Postelmans’ next event is a blood drive in honor of her grandson on Wednesday, March 15, at the Jean Shepherd Community Center in Hammond from 1 to 7 p.m. Anyone interested in reading more about CJ’s story can go to Facebook.com/KeepCJStrong.

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