A stranger's bone marrow donation saved the life of a Maryville teen, and her friends are hoping to help others make the same connection.
When Claire Hayes beat cancer the first time she was just fifteen.
But when doctors diagnosed her the second time, a female she's never met gave her the help- and the bone marrow- to fight.
"I asked was I going to lose my hair?" says Hayes. "That's the first thing that ran through my mind. And then, am I going to die?"
With the help of her sister and the family dog clippers, Claire took care of her first question before chemotherapy started.
As to the second one, Claire's struggles gave her doubts.
"I didn't think I was going to get through it. It was very hard," says Hayes.
She was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010. After several months of treatment and a hip and femur replacement, she was pronounced cancer free.
Then two months later doctors diagnosed her with Leukemia. Hayes says it was a side effect of her first cancer treatment.
As of June 28, 2012 and after a bone marrow transplant and at least a half dozen rounds of chemotherapy-- she is once again cancer free.
"I know it was a girl," she says of her donor match. "They saved my life. And I would like to say 'thank you'. You know?"
But the donor registry won't allow the pair to connect for at least a year. At that point, Claire says she plans to get in touch.
Her struggle inspired family friend Charles Ashworth and others with the East Tennessee Medical Group to help organize a donor registration drive at the John Sevier Pool.
He says people don't realize how easy it is to add their name to the national registry.
One young man did just that Saturday afternoon. Rubbing four long cotton swabs along his mouth's inner cheek for ten seconds each, he completed his registry in under ten minutes.
Hayes says people also don't realize how painless and simple donating marrow can be.
Typically she says, it's very similar to donating blood.
"You could save a life," says Hayes, much like someone saved hers.
For more information on becoming a donor click here.