Friends rally to help UVU alum get cancer treatment

Community » Campaign nets $100,000 for marrow transplant in India.
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When Urangoo Baatarkhuyag was diagnosed with leukemia, her friends sprang into action.

Otgo Carter, a fellow Mongolian who attended Utah Valley University with Baatarhuyag, launched the Web site with the goal of raising $350,000 to get her friend a life-saving bone-marrow transplant. She asked people to contribute what they could and organized other fundraisers.

"I couldn't leave her in the middle of the road," Carter said. "She is my best friend, and when she got sick, I could not leave her behind."

While the campaign, which included a martial-arts demonstration and fund drives in America and Mongolia, has netted just $100,000, organizers say Baatarkhuyag will be able to get the treatment in India instead.

Carter said Baatarhuyag's family decided to take her to India after the bill for chemotherapy and treatment of an infection at LDS Hospital totalled more than $300,000. She said the family feared the bone marrow transplant could cost more than $1 million. LDS Hospital worked with a hospital in Bangalore, India, to do the transplant, according to the blog, and Baatarhuyag is there as her family is being screened for potential donors.

Baatarkhuyag, who graduated from UVU with a bachelor's degree in engineering and drafting in 2008, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in September. She underwent chemotherapy at LDS Hospital, where blood tests found her cancer was still active, and a bone-marrow transplant was the only way to save her life.

Like countless other people, Baatarkhuyag has no insurance, and the hospital required payment up front. The $350,000 bill looked more like a death sentence at that point.

That's when Carter and UVU's International Student Council launched the fundraising campaign. Along with the Web site, signs throughout the Orem campus asked people to donate. Supporters also handed out rubber wristbands with the Web site's address.

Sunao Yamanouchi, a council member, said UVU's international students rallied to help Baatarkhuyag. Some, he said, saw her as part of their UVU family and wanted to help. He said UVU's international office also supported the effort.

Carter said Ty Lister, who works in the college's financial aid department, provided advice for the fundraising campaigns on campus.

Between the campus activities, including a Japanese culture night at UVU in November, and fundraisers at Salt Lake City restaurants, Baatarkhuyag's friends were able to raise $75,000, while efforts in her native Mongolia brought the total to $100,000.

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Learn more about Utah Valley University graduate Urangoo Baatarkhuyag's fight for life. »