By Michelle J. Jones
Arizona Daily Wildcat October 9, 1996
For people with a life-threatening disease, the road ahead is filled with questions and often, the only ones offering answers are medical professionals.
Shahram Mosleh, University of Arizona graduate who has leukemia, is offering a different kind of help. Mosleh provides support and friendship to those undergoing the same hardships he experienced.
"Each patient has a different set of problems, which can be money, family or a lack of support," he said. "I try to go visit patients whenever I can. I offer a smile, a talk and some kind words."
Mosleh was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1990, and was referred to the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson. Chronic myelogenous leukemia produces too many immature white blood cells which then move into the blood and bone marrow, in a sense s uffocating other cells and platelets. Mosleh was told the only hope for his type of leukemia would be to have a bone marrow transplant, he said.
A bone marrow transplant replaces a patient's marrow with healthy marrow from a donor. Donors can be a close relative or a stranger whose tissue is an exact match to the recipient's. Finding an exact match is difficult and often forces patients to wait o n long national lists before an appropriate donor is found.
Mosleh received a transplant in 1992 in Seattle and is doing well. He decided to help others get through the tough times ahead. He still goes to the Cancer Center every other month for follow-up treatments.
"Going through the process of getting better, I ran into a lot of patients in similar situations as me," Mosleh said, "and I just always try to help whenever I can."
Mosleh now works as an aerospace engineer in Phoenix. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and his master's in applied math at the UA.
Currently, he is spending a lot of his free time trying to help a young patient with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Maryam Seyedin, a 24-year-old college student living in California, has been waiting for a bone marrow transplant since being diagnosed at 19.Acute lymphocytic leukemia also involves the production of too many white blood cells, but it is a much faster s preading disease.
Mosleh met Seyedin when her father heard about Mosleh's work through word of mouth and called him. Mosleh talked to the family to offer them advice, and was immediately drawn to Seyedin and her struggle to get better, he said.
"My goal is offering people hope. They can look at me and see that you can survive and get back to a normal life," Mosleh said.
The best hope for Seyedin is a bone marrow transplant, but she has been unable to get health insurance, and must pay for the entire procedure, Mosleh said. A donor has been found, but time is very important and the procedure cannot be done until the hospi tal receives payment.
Mosleh is helping raise funds for an account that has been set up in Seyedin's name at the National Transplant Assistance Fund. The goal is to raise $260,000. Mosleh said about $35,000 has been raised so far, and he admits that it is a slow process.
The goal is established by the NTAF based on what the hospital performing the transplant charges. NTAF is a non-profit organization that acts as trustees of the account while money is raised, said Sidney Constien, director of public relations for NTAF."Ma ryam has such a vibrant joie de vie (joy of life). She is a wonderful example of someone who is just waiting for the procedure," Constien said.
The government does not allow groups to raise funds for specific individuals, because then anybody could start a fund, Constien said. If for some reason Seyedin does not use the money in her fund or if not all of the money is used, it will go toward helpi ng another individual, she said.
"This is a teamwork effort. No one can do it alone. That's why we go to our community," Mosleh said.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the "Friends of Maryam Transplant fund," can send checks payable to "NTAF: Friends of Maryam Seyedin" to NTAF: Friends of Maryam Seyedin Transplant Fund, Post Office Box 258, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010. More information is available by calling (800) 642-8399.