"Be The Match" Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Fairfield University, Wed. Dec. 9

Spurred on by the plight of a family friend who was diagnosed with leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant, Fairfield University senior nursing student Eileen Smith has helped arrange to have The National Marrow Donor Program's "Be The Match" donor registration drive held on Wednesday Dec. 9, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in the John A. Barone Campus Center, Lower Level. To take part simply requires completing a registration form and giving a cheek swab.

People between the ages of 18 and 60, in generally good health, can give hope to cancer patients and their loved ones this Holiday Season, by joining the 11 million people worldwide who stand ready to save a life, if they're called one day as a match for a patient. Sadly, only 2 out of every 10 patients will receive the transplants that could save their lives.

Once someone is called as a potential match, the next step is to get a good health check and blood work drawn. A majority of donations do not involve surgery. Today, the patient's doctor most commonly requests a Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation (PBSC) which is non-surgical. The other way of donating is marrow donation, which is a surgical procedure. With both types of donation, donors usually go home the same day they donate.

It is important to know that racial and ethnic heritage play a vital role in tissue matches. Because tissue types are inherited, a patient is more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. Adding more donors from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the Be The Match Registry increases the likelihood that all patients will find a life-saving match.

While Eileen knows the chances are small that her family's friend will be helped by the drive, she said, "When he heard about what we were doing, he was just grateful that someone else might have a chance."

Questions about joining? See the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute representative at the drive, call DFCI in advance toll-free at (866) 875-3324 or e-mail www.nmdpdonor@dfci.harvard.edu. For more information about the Registry go to www.BeTheMatch.org.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 3, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 141

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