Fremd tries to save alum's life with bone marrow drive

  • Fremd High School alumnus Aaron Lee, who grew up in Inverness, is in need of a stem cell transplant.

    Fremd High School alumnus Aaron Lee, who grew up in Inverness, is in need of a stem cell transplant. Photo courtesy of Lee family

Updated 12/6/2016 12:43 PM

Fremd High School will host a bone marrow drive next week in hopes of saving the life of one of its alumni.

Aaron Lee, a 34-year-old Fremd alumnus who grew up in Inverness, is battling Stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It's the same type of blood cancer that Chicago Cubs stars Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester had, but a different and more deadly strain. Doctors have told Lee, who now lives in California, that a stem cell transplant is his best chance at survival.


Last month, more than 100 people showed up at a stem cell drive held for Lee at Beth Tikvah Congregation in Hoffman Estates, where his parents are members.

Now, two of Lee's former Fremd classmates -- Fremd math teacher Chris Grattoni and attorney Patrick Ross -- are organizing a bone marrow registry drive from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 (stem cells are found in bone marrow). The drive will be in the faculty cafeteria at the school, 1000 S. Quentin Road in Palatine.

The test doesn't involve needles, just a cheek swab. Eligible donors must be between age 18 and 44. Those who can't make it can get a testing kit sent by mail at

Lee's mixed ethnicity -- he's half Chinese and half Ashkenazi Jewish -- decrease the chances of him finding a match. However, a potential match does not need to have identical ancestry.

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Lee's mother, Naomi Lee, said Aaron just finished his fourth round of chemotherapy this week, his hardest one yet, and he still has two rounds to go.

"He's in good spirits, though," she said. "He just fights and does everything he has to do. He's determined that he's going to beat this."

You can follow his journey at

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