Bone marrow testing drive asks students to become life saviors

Angela Scionti
Equinox Staff

 

Saving a life has never been easier. This past Saturday afternoon, a bone marrow screening event, “Be the Match Registry” sponsored by the Monadnock Middle School Destination Imagination (DI), was held outside the L.P. Young Student Center. Across campus, informative flyers were posted and volunteers passed out colorful pamphlets. Destination Imagination, Inc. is a non-profit organization that helps children discover their creativity by competing as teams in tournaments.

Karina Barriga Albring / News Editor Students fill out health forms to verify if they are eligible for bone marrow donations Saturday, May 4.

 

The mission of the organization is, “To develop opportunities that inspire the global community of learners to utilize diverse approaches in applying 21st Century Skills and creativity”, according to the organization’s website. The organization began in 1999 and has grown to 125,000 youth members and 38,000 volunteers each year, also stated on the organization’s website.  This wasn’t the first time “Be the Match Registry” has come to KSC, according to Rhode Island Match Registry Coordinator and N.H. resident, Jackie Mcloon. Mcloon said, “about four or five years ago we were in the Science Center building.”

By providing a saliva sample, students can learn if they are a match for cancer patient

With much success, 23 students signed up only two hours into the event on Saturday, May 4 according to Lisa Cloutier, team manager and coordinator for DI. “Twenty-three is a very good turnout so far”, said Mcloon.

 

Mcloon herself joined the registry 12 years ago and was the match for a patient that had leukemia, who is now healthy thanks to her generosity of registering as a donor.  The team’s theme was “Raising awareness for childhood cancer, that is why we are here today to do a bone marrow drive” Cloutier stated.

 

The “Be the Match Registry” idea was initially kickstarted back in 1979 when a couple’s 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. In desperation, the parents were eager to try anything. They agreed to try a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor—this was a first for a leukemia patient. The young girl received her transplant and the treatment gave her an extra year and a half of life. This unheard of medical procedure sparked the idea of the organization’s goal today, to provide a large donor registry to help others who are sick and in need of a donor.

 

“Be the Match Registry” was first started in 1987 and now has “Grown to more than 20.5 million donors, and more than 55,000 transplants have been performed- more than 5,800 transplants a year”, according to the organization’s website. Only 30 percent of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant have a matching donor in their family. In order to register, donors must meet requirements, multiple health questions are surveyed, the plausible donor must provide contact information, and health insurance information is collected. The donor supplies a cheek swab sample which is tested in a lab in Minnesota, which then performs Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing, and the donor’s HLA typing is then posted on the registry. If a match is found for a patient, the donor is contacted.

 

When a match is found, there are two options of how the donor donates their bone marrow. Eighty percent of donors donate peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). A non-surgical and outpatient procedure makes donations easier and less time consuming. The donor receives an injection for five days, which increases the blood stem cell count in the blood stream. On the fifth day, the donor’s blood is collected by a needle through the arm and is put through a machine that separates the blood stem cells. The remaining blood is then returned into the donor’s other arm. “Be the Match Registry” has held many events across New England and across the country in order to help people get their chance to be able to register as a donor and save a life. If people are short on time and cannot attend the local events they can go on the Be the Match website at anytime to register with just a few simple steps, by filling out an online form, and then ordering the registration kit. With the kit the donor-to-be takes the swab tip provided in the kit to collect cheek cells. After, the person will simply return the kit. If the person is approved as a donor they stay in the registry until they reach the age of 61.

 

Angela Scionti can be contacted ascionti@keene-equinox.com

Share and Enjoy !

Shares