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Woman Who Adopts Special Children Needs Bone Marrow Transplant

February 2, 1987

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ A woman known for adopting children with special needs now has a life-or- death need of her own: $75,000 for a bone-marrow transplant.

″The six kids and the Lord, and to see six reasons why I need to go on and not give up is what keeps me going,″ said Lynn Schmacker, who has been afflicted with Hodgkin’s disease for the past five years.

″I just feel like I have so much to give to my kids,″ Ms. Schmacker, 32, said Monday.

Hodgkin’s causes swelling of the lympth nodes, eventually impairing the body’s immune system.

Ms. Schmacker’s doctor described her condition as extremely serious.

″Without the transplant, she’ll die of her disease,″ said Dr. Peter Weiss of Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, adding that her chances of experiencing total remission with the procedure are 40 percent. ″Time is of the essence.″

Her brother, John Schmacker, a teacher in Indiana, has been approved as a bone-marrow donor.

″The word ‘cancer’ scares a lot of people,″ Ms. Schmacker said. ″So, I just kept a low profile until we had to go public ... because of needing the money.″

She said her illness might cause problems with state agencies which might question her ability to care for the children. She has adopted five and hopes to adopt a sixth now under her care.

One of the children suffers from spina bifida, a birth defect that makes walking difficult, while the others have emotional problems.

She has cared for the children with state and federal assistance.

″I have a tendency of not looking at the kids the same way as the (social) workers do,″ Ms. Schmacker said. ″I just look at them as normal kids who can pull through this. They just need a little encouragement and help.″

Although her illness has taken its toll physically, Ms. Schmacker said she’s been able to care for her children. In times of difficulty, she said, her family helps.

She said she has reached an agreement with Barnes Hospital in St. Louis to perform the procedure for $75,000.

The Illinois Department of Public Aid had refused to pay for the procedure, saying it is experimental, she said. The department has paid for all of her treatment so far, though.

″We do not pay for that type of medical treatment because there haven’t been enough of them done in this country, and there is not enough data,″ said Dan Pittman of the Public Aid Department.

So, Ms. Schmacker’s friends established a trust fund at the First National Bank of Collinsville for the transplant, and they’ve raised more than $1,000.

Ms. Schmacker first became a foster parent 12 years ago and began adopting children thereafter.

″She’s provided exceptional care to the kids and is a fantastic parent,″ said Cindy McNamara, a social worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

″She just has the ability to develop those kids and make them achieve their greatest potential,″ Ms. McNamara said. ″I sure hope they can raise those funds because it would be a waste to see that talent go under.″

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