RUSTON, La. (KTVE/KARD)- Hillary Husband is a two-time cancer survivor from the Ruston area. Hillary was just 14-years-old, a freshman in high school, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her battle with cancer would continue with three relapses over seven years.

“I was diagnosed the first time when I was 14, I got sick again when I was 18 and then I relapsed when I was 20”, said Hillary.

Thanks to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match, Husband found her match and the bone marrow transplant saved her life. Seven years later, she got to meet her anonymous donor in person, on one of the most special times of her life, her wedding weekend.

Husband is preparing to share her story with Congress as part of a virtual fly-in hosted by NMDP/Be The Match on May 17-18. The goal is to advocate for legislation to create a national job protection for bone marrow donors. It would allow people, in any U.S. state, to take up to 40 non-consecutive hours of unpaid leave to donate, without risking their jobs.

“”It would cause the employer to guarantee the job for the donor when they come back. So it’s about 40 hours over a couple of weeks, 4 hours here, 8 hours here, for the donation process”, said Husband.

This legislation would have minimal to no cost to employers. It would not require employees to take their established paid time off or sick leave, and it would not require employers to pay for leave to donate. It would merely ensure the donor’s job would be protected while they are involved in the donation process.

Donor leave time may include meetings with a donation coordinator, providing blood samples, a physical exam, injections of a pre-donation medication administered over five days for most donors, travel to the donation site, completing the donation, and a short recovery period. Forty percent of donors will travel during the donation process.

National donor leave legislation would also help close the donor gap for under-represented populations on the registry, including ethnic and racial minorities. Patients are matched by their genetic background, which means patients and donors usually share the same race and ethnicity. Unfortunately, the likelihood a patient has a fully matched donor on the registry varies from 79% for white patients to just 29% for Black patients.