UNION COUNTY — The residents of Union County will have the opportunity this Thursday to “take the first step to saving a life” by having their cheek swabbed during the Senior Night basketball game.
In a joint press release issued earlier this month, the Union County High School HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) Club and Be the Match® announced that they have joined together to hold a “special initiative” to raise awareness of the need for bone marrow donors. That special initiative will take place from 5:30-9:30 p.m. in the UCHS gym lobby during Thursday’s Senior Night basketball game. During the event, students and families attending the game will be encouraged to “sign up to save a life” and get their cheek swabbed.
The press release states that “the need for donors from diverse backgrounds is urgent” because “patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity, and doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group more than 90 percent of the time. More young people of diverse racial and ethnic heritage are needed now to help patients searching for a match.”
It stresses that filling out a form to join the registry and having your cheek swabbed could very well be all that stands between life and death for someone in need of a bone marrow donation.
Ashley Collier, Senior Community Engagement Manager for Be the Match®, said that by joining the registry, a person becomes a potential donor, but will only be asked to donate if contacted. Collier said that is uncommon to be contacted, pointing that only approximately 1 in 70,000 people on the registry will receive such a call. She said that of those listed on the registry only 1 out of every 430 will actually be asked to donate.
Collier said that the rarity is due to the fact that it is very, very hard to match a donor with a patient. She said that what they are looking for a “genetically identical stranger.” She said that what patients are looking for is a donor who is genetically identical to them but unrelated.
Despite the rarity, however, Collier said that donors are nevertheless needed. She said that the more potential donors there are on the registry, the “more opportunities for a patient to find the donor they are looking for.”
The press release also points out that “Be The Match® relies on financial contributions to help cover the $100 cost associated with adding each new member to the registry. Those joining are asked to please give what they can. People between the ages of 45 and 60 who want to join the registry are welcome to do so online with a $100 tax-deductible payment.”
Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers — like leukemia and lymphoma — or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.