The University hosts bone marrow drive

Published: November 13, 2015

Commentary by

Shannon Bowen

     Every three minutes, a baby, child or adult is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. 480 people each day, 20 people each hour. No one expects this and no family is prepared. However, there is a cure – and believe it or not, it could be you.

This week, The University has tried to find bone marrow donors.

It all started when the issue was brought to The University’s attention after one student needed a bone marrow donor and there were only a few choose from. Thus, the marrow drive event was brought here. It was a special event aimed at saving lives – and all it took was a few minutes out of your day to help.

This unique event was featured on the WNEP 6 a.m. news Monday morning. The drive, Be The Match, took place at the DeNaples Center Tuesday and Wednesday. Be The Match is a non-profit community of donors, volunteers, researchers and health care professionals that deliver cures.

The goal here was to collect more people, aka students, for the registry. The drive focused much attention on increasing the number of multiracial donors because there is a lack of them, which poses a poignant problem.

It should be made known that patients with diverse heritage have a harder time finding a donor. That is why patients with diseases like leukemia or lymphoma need people like you. Each year, over 12,000 patients need a transplant to survive. In these 12,000, a person outside his or her family is the patient’s only hope.

Seventy percent of patients needing a marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. Patients are most likely to match with someone who shares their ancestry. When they have no matching donor in their family, they turn to Be The Match for help.

Since 1987, more than 43,000 transplants have provided patients a second chance at life. Today, Be The Match facilitates more than 5,200 transplants a year.

The drive was a fast process that made it easy for the public to get involved and help a good cause. The most important purpose of the event was to help spread awareness.

Be The Match targets people of the ages 18-44. Last year at The University, about 20 people participated, and this year it was expected to be two times that. In total, 11 million people are involved in Be The Match.

The ideas and process for getting the event together were done by The University’s Nursing Department, along with the Nursing Honors Society.

“This event will absolutely help spread awareness. This is a conjunction with the Sigma Beta Tau Nursing Honor Society,” said the president elect of the honors society, Leah Arcuri-Hacker, a former student who is currently a nurse practitioner.

She continued, “Our vision is to spread outreach in the local community about leukemia and how we can play our part in making a difference.”

On the news, Nicolette Sorensen, a leader of the event, spoke about the biggest misconception about bone marrow transplants. “People think it’s painful and invasive – it actually doesn’t involve blood at all,” said Sorensen. “It’s a step by step process – it’s literally as simple as it sounds.”

All it takes is five to ten minutes with basic paperwork for everyone. In order to find out if you can “be the match,” you take 45 seconds to swab each side of your cheek.

If you take this step and match – you commit to saving a life.

ABC News’ Good Morning America Robin Roberts has actively spread the word about blood cancer. She spoke to people about how easy it is to be the match and help save someone’s life who is battling a form of blood cancer. Roberts herself had an illness called myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS. She, too, experienced the tremendous difficulty of having blood cancer and finding a match. She now makes bracelets for the cause.

Even though the drive here at school is over, there is a 24/7 online drive that you can join anytime. To sign up online, and to help save lives, type the link below into your browser and follow the steps to register: http://join.bethematch.org/PASaves

Lastly, there are a couple common myths about marrow donations. Here are the facts: All donations involve surgery – this is false – the majority do not. There are two ways to donate, the first being peripheral blood stem cell donation (PBSC). The second way to donate is marrow donation, which is surgical. Either way, you would typically go home the same day.

Another myth is that donating is painful and takes a long time to recover – this is false. PBSC donation may be uncomfortable, but the side effects are very short lived. Donors take a drug for five days before donation. These drugs can cause fatigue, headaches and joint or muscle aches. This discomfort goes away quickly after the donation and allows for going back to a normal routine within one to two days. How terrible would a little headache be while fully knowing it is merely the result of saving a human being’s life?

With marrow donation, it is a little different. You would get general or local anesthesia, so during the procedure, you would feel no pain whatsoever. The side effects are some soreness in the lower back for one to two weeks afterward. Within two to seven days, you would most likely be back to your normal routine. Again, a small price to pay for a huge reward.

The Be The Match bone marrow drive will continue to work for a healthier lifestyle and towards saving lives, one campus event at a time.

Contact the writer: shannon.bowen@scranton.edu

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