On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow Donor Program registry for a life-saving bone marrow match. For many of these patients, a transplant is the only cure, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.
The Sam Houston State University Student Government Association is taking on Stephen F. Austin State University in the NMDP’s Marrowthon Challenge April 22-23.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., registration tables for individuals who wish to be on the bone marrow donor list will be located in front of the Lowman Student Center, the Health and Kinesiology Center, the Criminal Justice Center, and the Chemistry and Forensic Science Building.
The days’ events do not involve giving marrow on the spot. The process that takes place on campus is only registration.
The marrow drive is in competition with SHSU’s rival school, SFA. The organization from each school with the highest percent of possible donors will receive $500. Second place will receive $300, and third place will receive $100. Though it is a competition, the overall goal of the event is to save lives, according to SGA chief of student affairs and event coordinator Monica Eaton.
“SGA decided to do the drive because it helps everyone in some kind of way,” she said. “The more people we can get registered in the program, the more lives can possibly be saved in the future.
“There is a huge lack of donors in minority communities of the hundreds of Americans that will be diagnosed with leukemia or sickle-cell anemia,” Eaton said. “This year only about 10 percent of Hispanic Americans, 8 percent African Americans, and about 2 percent of Asian Americans will be able to get a transplant. Sam Houston has a very diverse population with a better probability to find a match.”
Registration includes necessary paperwork, a driver’s license, a cheek swab, and the contact information of two relatives that do not live with the individual. After this is complete, the information is added to the NMDP registry program, where it is kept on file as an active donor.
Once in the registry program, the individual must wait on a call from the NMDP with a marrow match, depending on what kind of marrow is needed.
Bone marrow benefits patients that are diagnosed with cancer, primarily leukemia and sickle cell anemia. Just like blood, the types of marrow vary from person to person. The call may never come because there are so many different types of marrow.
“The term ‘bone marrow’ is misleading because it makes people think that it’s some surgical procedure,” said Eaton. “It’s just taking the marrow liquid from your body, similar to giving blood.”
In the process of taking marrow, blood is actually extracted, and the marrow is separated and kept, and the blood is returned to the body.
An alternative way of donating involves a general anesthetic, and a direct extraction of marrow from the hipbone, the largest bone in the body. This process only takes about an hour and can be done at your family medical clinic or any local hospital with little to no pain.
“The pain ranges from not feeling it at all, to ‘ouch that hurts.’ That’s a small price to pay to save someone’s life,” Eaton said.
The SGA successfully registered upwards of 200 individuals on campus into the NMDP registry program in their February bone marrow drive, “Are You My Type Bone Marrow Drive,” and have hopes of being just as, if not more, successful in the SHSU vs. SFA Marrowthon Challenge.
Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60, and have a good health status. Donors also have the option to be active in the registry program until the age of 60, or can request to be taken off of the list at any time.
For more information, contact Easton at email@example.com.
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