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Calling Young Bone Marrow Donors

by the Biochemistry II Class

On Tuesday, April 17, Warren Wilson is hosting a Project Life Bone Marrow Drive in Canon Lounge. We have a grant that will pay for 300 Warren Wilson community members to join the Be The Match Registry. Why should you be one of those to join?

Thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match to save their life. Young donors are preferred (that means YOU); cells from a younger donor lead to more successful transplants because younger donors produce more high quality cells. Bone marrow transplants save lives.

Sick patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply. For a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close genetic match. Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood. Even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed. Presently, there is not enough diversity in the registry. Increasing the registry increases the number of people like you that have a chance of survival.

So what happens if you decide to join the registry?

Come to Canon Lounge on April 17th between 11am and 5:30pm. Fill out some paperwork and get your cheek swabbed. The whole process will take about 10 minutes. You may be called to be a donor in a week, month, years, or never. And you always have the choice not to donate even if you are called. You will remain on the registry until you’re 61-years-old or until you ask to be removed. On average, 1 out of 540 members get called to donate. If you are called to donate, the process may go one of two ways:

Peripheral blood cell donation involves removing a donor’s blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm. The process is similar to plasma donation.

Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor’s pelvic bones. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Some donors may have some lower back pain for a few days afterwards.

If you have any questions about the process of becoming a donor or donating, please feel free to contact anyone in the Biochemistry II class (Vicki Collins, Jessica Irons, Mayuri Patel, Liz Miller, Alice Sloan, Tabitha Ndung’u, Nebiyou Mandefro, Mary Hricik, and Ben Adamson). We hope to see you at the drive on April 17th!

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