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Family of W.Va. woman plans to collect 500 units of blood through drives

November 06, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Cynthia Snyder
Cynthia Snyder

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Cynthia Snyder was slowed by a rare blood disease, plus three successful fights with cancer, but they never stopped her from living life.

She reveled in 31 years of marriage, taught elementary school for 10 years and owned a flower shop after that for another 17 years.

Snyder died July 6 at age 58 from Diamond Blackfan Anemia, a rare blood disease that afflicts 1 in 7 million people, said her husband, Lee Snyder, a Jefferson County businessman and brother of state Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson/Berkeley.

The disease was diagnosed by her doctor when she was 6 weeks old.

“Her pediatrician had unusual insights for the time,” Lee Snyder said.

Diamond Blackfan Anemia, or DBA, named for the physicians who described it in 1938, is the failure of bone marrow to produce red blood cells, according to the DBA’s website. It is usually diagnosed from infancy through age 2.

Regular blood transfusions are the normal treatment for DBA, along with experimental drug regimens that don’t always work, don’t work for long or have debilitating side effects, Lee Snyder said.

Cytoxan, a cancer drug, was one that worked for Cynthia. It pushed her anemia into remission for about a decade before she had to go back on transfusions, he said. Next was Imuran, which gave her relief from transfusions for 11 more years.

Cynthia worked hard to live a normal life, battling DBA with grace and courage, Lee Snyder said.

“She has had lots of challenges in her life, more than most,” he said. “She had more than 500 units of blood, she survived breast, colon and skin cancer.”

Cynthia taught fourth grade at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Charles Town for 10 years. A lover of flowers, she opened and ran Cynthia’s Flowers and Gifts in Ranson, W.Va., after she stopped teaching.

The transfusions became more frequent in the months before she died, from every six weeks to every two to three weeks and more, her husband said.

She spent her last 29 days in the hospital. Reduced lung capacity brought on breathing problems.

“The transfusions were getting less and less effective toward the end,” he said.
The couple had no children.

Snyder, his niece, Mariah Norton, and nephew, Rodney Snyder, have organized a Red Cross blood drive in Cynthia’s memory. Their goal is to eventually replace the 500 units she received in her life.

The drive will be conducted by the American Red Cross on Nov. 14 from noon to 6 p.m. at Snyder Environmental, Lee Snyder’s business at 270 Industrial Blvd. in Kearneysville, W.Va.
   
That event is just the beginning of the campaign, he said. It won’t end until the Red Cross collects 500 units in Cynthia’s name.

Interest in the drive is spreading across social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Snyder said.

“People can donate blood in Cynthia’s name anywhere in the country,” he said.

Learn more at www.cynthiasdrive.org.

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