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Air Force Master Sergeant Continues the Good Fight
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Seaman Recruit Jessica Fitch plans on continuing blood donations whenever possible. She is proud of her husband, Petty Officer Brenton Fitch, and her father-in-law, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Fitch, for serving.
Navy Petty Officer Brenton Fitch, a cryptologic technician (collections) petty officer, shared the story of his veteran father Charles Fitch and his ongoing battle to recover from his illness. During this eight-year struggle, Charles Fitch has received “countless” transfusions of blood and blood products.
On March 3, Charles and Brenton Fitch saw their new Sailor, Seaman Recruit Jessica Fitch, graduate boot camp.
According to Brenton Fitch, after days of upper torso pain he discovered, Charles Fit was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, which is a type of leukemia that is more common in children and typically has a better prognosis. However, for adults the prognosis is not so optimistic.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood cells over time. These cells become leukemia cells which cannot effectively fight infections and … increase in the blood and bone marrow making less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.”
The main treatment currently for ALL is chemotherapy and full body radiation which destroy the cells making the use of blood transfusions and platelets necessary to replenish the cells that were destroyed.
“Since July 2010, Charles has been hospitalized many times to receive chemotherapy, blood transfusions and platelets,” said Brenton Fitch. “When he was first admitted to the hospital, he received many chemotherapy treatments. During a second extended stay in the hospital it was discovered that his brother, Eddie, was a bone marrow match. Charles was the recipient of Eddie’s bone marrow but before the procedure he underwent full body radiation and many more rounds of chemotherapy treatments. After the bone marrow transplant, Charles was in remission.”
In 2013, he relapsed and required more hospitalization time. He received many more chemotherapy treatments.
“After considering a half-matched bone marrow transplant with myself, his son, a new FDA-approved biologics specific cancer treating drug called was recommended,” Brenton Fitch said.
Charles Fitch served in the United States Air Force during Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm and Desert Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served in Africa providing combat and medical support for troops and villagers in Eritrea during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. He retired in 2003 as a master sergeant and continued federal service serving other veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a medical administrative officer until 2011.
Seaman Recruit Jessica Fitch donates blood when she can. Her reason for donating is simple: “My father-in-law does so much better when he receives blood. It’s so nice to see him do well after a transfusion.”
Jessica Fitch said before her Navy career began, she worked two jobs. One at (a local hardware store) and another in child care.
Brenton Fitch is a blood donor as well and knows the benefits of donating blood for others in need.
“Today, Charles enjoys lifting weights, taking his dogs on long walks, spending time with his grandsons, Jacob and Landon, and enjoying all that Charleston, S.C., has to offer,” Brenton Fitch said. “My father has received countless blood transfusion and platelets in his fight to beat cancer. This is why I donate blood and encourage others to do so. By donating you can help give someone a second chance.”
About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit
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