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Featured fundraiser: John York

John, blood stem cell transplant recipient 

John York is a notable actor and entertainer, known for his role as Malcolm (Mac) Scorpio on the ABC daytime soap opera, “General Hospital.” He began his career in the modeling industry, spending the days auditioning and his nights working as a doorman for club in downtown Chicago. But he is so much more than a television star, he’s a proud dad, beloved husband to his wife Vicki and grandfather, who loves golfing and spending time with his family. He grew up in a very close-knit family and loved playing football and baseball.

An unexpected diagnosis

At 17, John was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which required treatment. Throughout the years, he had occasional flare-ups, but he maintained a healthy diet and saw his doctors regularly. About eight years ago, doctors informed him that a section of his colon would not heal. John’s doctor recommended a form of chemo that could impact his kidney function, so he had to have regular blood tests and meet with an oncologist. “It’s amazing how life unfolded. Even my colitis was part of a bigger plan,” said John.

Everything was fine until after a routine blood test and bone biopsy doctors discovered that John had myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). His wife Vicki began to cry as the doctor explained the diagnosis over the phone. “I was bewildered. I was wondering why, I felt great,” said John.

His doctors caught the cancer early and decided that the best course of action was a blood stem cell transplant. He shared the news with his family but was reluctant to tell his producers at work. With frequent doctor appointments to Tennessee, his daughter and son-in-law encouraged him to relocate for the duration of his treatment. After making this decision, John informed his executive producer, casting director and team on the show about his condition and plans to move. They were very supportive.

The second act

Like seventy percent of patients, John did not have a fully matched donor in his family, so the search began. As John learned more about the NMDP RegistrySM and the need for more donors, he used his star power to get the word out about NMDPSM.

“I was originally planning on going through the whole process with just my family and a few close friends knowing what was happening. But after speaking with someone at NMDP, I was convinced that sharing my diagnosis publicly could help possibly raise money [for patients] and inspire people to join the registry as a possible donor,” said John.

And it surely did help. Working with NMDP staff, he used X (formerly known as Twitter) to spread awareness. John received many comments of support and encouragement from individuals who donated financially, joined the registry and had faced similar challenges. John’s fundraiser “Match for Mac” has raised over $18,000 and his story was shared on Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight.

“It was a much larger reaction than I ever anticipated ... there are so many positives to be taken away from everything that has happened and I hope will continue to happen,” said John.

In late 2023, John was informed that a matching donor was found on the registry. John celebrated his “100 days” post-transplant earlier this year and looks forward to the day when he can meet his donor and give them a big hug.

You can be a part of the movement by joining the registry, creating a fundraiser or making a gift to help more patients receive their life-saving cell therapy.