It’s a terrible thing to lose a child. When 20-year-old Torry Yahn made her final request, “Mom, find out why” to her mother JoAnn, there was only one thing left to do. JoAnn took her grief and turned it into an advocacy effort that has raised over $415,000 for bone marrow failure disease research through the Torry Yahn Research Fund.
Torry started to complain of headaches when she was 16. As things got worse, tests revealed she suffered from aplastic anemia. After four years of treatments, medications and blood transfusions, Torry received a bone-marrow transplant in February 1998. Two months later she died.
JoAnn immediately became active with AA&MDSIF. Along with her late husband, Don, the Yahns established the Torry Yahn Research Fund and organized an event near their Churchville, NY home to raise money. Family members, friends, neighbors, and members of the community all came together to help the Yahn family raise money for the research fund through their Annual Chicken Barbecue and Auction.
This wonderful event of fun, friends, and hope included a delicious chicken barbeque along with an auction with many exciting prizes, including handmade Amish furniture, quilts, and baskets. 2013 marked the 15th and final Chicken Barbecue and Auction, and AA&MDSIF is very grateful to the Yahn family for their years of dedication to this important event.
Because of the money raised from this annual event for the Torry Yahn Research Fund, many research grants have been given to leading researchers in the aplastic anemia field:
- In 2013, Dr. Akiko Shimamura of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center received a grant for: Genetic predictors of response to immunosuppressive therapy for aplastic anemia
- In 2011, Dr. Kim-Hien Dao of the Oregon Health & Science University received a grant for: Beta-Catenin is a Molecular Target of the Fanconi-Anemia Core Complex.
- In 2010, Dr. Ramon Tiu of the Cleveland Clinic received a grant for: LFA-3/CD2 Pathway: Potential Target for Immunosuppressive Therapy in Aplastic Anemia.
- In 2008, Dr. Lisa Mintner of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who also lost a daughter to aplastic anemia, received a grant for: Evaluating PKC-0 as a Therapeutic Target in a Mouse Model of Severe Aplastic Anemia.
Torry's last request was to find out why this disease happens. Her parents have dedicated the rest of their lives to find out why by raising money for Torry’s research fund with hopes that one day, a cure will be found.
AA&MDSIF is greatly appreciative of the Yahn family’s 15 years of dedication and hard work to raise over $415,000 to fund aplastic anemia research, and we commend them on this tremendous accomplishment.