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Woman Known For Adopting Kids With Special Needs To Get Transplant

February 11, 1987

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ A gravely ill woman who opened her home to six hard-to-place children will be able to afford a bone-marrow transplant because more than 1,000 people donated $82,000, a friend said.

Lynn Schmacker, 32, has adopted five children and hopes to adopt a sixth in her care. One child has spina bifida, a birth defect of the spine, and the others suffer emotional problems, said Audrey Schiller, Ms. Schmacker’s mother.

The youngsters range from age 5 to 12.

″The six kids, good grief, I don’t think they’ve ever thought their mama’s gonna die,″ Mrs. Schiller said. ″I took Lynn a card from one of the girls saying, ’Get well soon. It’s not any fun with you in the hospital.‴

Ms. Schmacker, who is single, has suffered from Hodgkin’s disease for five years and the bone-marrow transplant could save her life, Mrs. Schiller said. The donations began coming in after her plight was publicized last month.

″It’s overwhelming to see how much love people have for one another,″ said Mrs. Schiller, of Bay City, Texas. ″Lynn is very, very grateful.″

Adele Leskera, who is coordinating the fund raising, said Tuesday the drive had netted about $82,000 thus far.

More than 1,000 people from around the United States contributed money, ranging from 35 cents to $50, since the drive began Jan. 30, Mrs. Leskera said.

″One contribution came from West Germany,″ she said. ″I don’t remember if it was a man or a woman, but someone in the military read (about Ms. Schmacker) in ’Stars and Stripes.‴

The fund-raising drive began after Barnes Hospital in St. Louis told Ms. Schmacker doctors there would perform the bone-marrow transplant for $75,000. She expects to transfer to Barnes from Jewish Hospital in St. Louis this week, Mrs. Leskera said.

Ms. Schmacker, who does not work, had received money for chemotherpy and radiation treatments from the Illinois Department of Public Aid. But the agency refused to finance the transplant because it is considered experimental.

Ms. Schmacker’s 33-year-old brother John Schmacker of Oakland City, Ind., already has been approved as a donor. Her family has helped her care for the children when she has been ill.

″We’ve got enough to get her in. Now we need prayers and donations,″ said Mrs. Leskera, adding that doctors estimate post-transplant costs could be $385,000.

Dr. Peter Weiss, Ms. Schmacker’s physician, said last week that his patient’s best chance of survival was a bone-marrow transplant because her body no longer could tolerate chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

She has a 40 percent chance of total remission, Weiss said.

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