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FIGHT FOR NICK: A CALL FOR STEM CELL DONORS

By Monique Garcia

Photos submitted by the Prochnow Family



When you say the words, “I’m from Long Beach,” it means something. No matter how big this city grows, you can always find kindness and belonging. When facing something as formidable as a life-threatening illness, it’s important to have the strong sense of community and support that Long Beach always seems to provide. And now, the Prochnow family is calling on that community to help them find a stem cell donor for one of Long Beach’s own.



A Long Beacher

Nick Prochnow is a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. He has also been a member of the Long Beach community for decades. He and his wife, Rose, first moved here in their twenties and like many, started in a “not so great” apartment with almost no furniture. Together, they built their lives and raised three loving children, Andrew, Nicole, and Samantha. 


One of the first members of the Belmont Athletics Club, Nick’s membership card has only three digits to what is now in the thousands! He was an avid racquetball player with multiple championships under his belt. 


Nick loves the Long Beach sports community. For about 10 years, he proudly played for the baseball teams, Orioles and Sony. He was Sam’s head coach in AYSO for about five years, coaching at Marina Vista Park.


Through his work as a steel contractor, Nick was part of the team working on the current Long Beach airport renovations.


And most impressive of all, if you grab a beer at Murphy’s Pub, you would see the name PROCHNOW spelled vertically on their Hall of Hops. He is definitely a Long Beacher. 


Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

“Whenever this started, it started fast. He was in pretty much perfect health a year before,” remembers Nick’s daughter, Sam Prochnow.


Nick is now facing the most formidable challenge of his life - Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). MDS is a rare blood disease that affects the number of healthy blood cells. The diagnosis came quickly and suddenly just after Christmas. It seemed like overnight Nick went from living his life to doctor visits, blood testing, and forced isolation due to being immunocompromised. 


“His hematology-oncologist said that this will be a marathon. Him getting better will take a long time and we only just started,” explains Rose Prochnow.


Looking For a Donor Match

Nick and his family are doing everything they can to fight this devastating disease. The Prochnows are reaching out to their fellow Long Beachers with the hope that one of us will be a match for Nick. The best donor ages are 18-40 and the testing kit is provided free of charge. To find out if you are a match, you can register on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). 


“In the end, somebody will benefit from people joining the registry, not just my dad,” shares Sam. 


The next few months will be a difficult journey for the Prochnow family and all who love him. When asked about Nick’s plans after all this is over, Sam smiles, “Dad plans on getting Sunday breakfast at Big Rec and spending a day on the green.”



SPRING INTO ACTION

Registration is simple. By scanning the QR code with your phone camera, a link will redirect you to a health questionnaire. Once complete, a cheek-swab testing kit will be sent to your residence to confirm whether or not you are a match for Nick or anyone else on the registry. If anyone is a match, the donations would be similar to donating plasma at a blood drive. At the cost of time and a non-surgical procedure, you have the potential to save a life.

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