At yesterday’s marrow registration drive, about 80 students signed up in the hopes of giving patients with diseases like leukemia and lymphoma hope of finding life-saving donors.
UCSB fraternities Nu Alpha Kappa and Alpha Phi Alpha co-hosted yesterday’s registration drive in support of the National Marrow Donor Program. The program allowed interested students to join the national bone marrow registry as potential donors.
The drive was held yesterday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Student Resource Building. Alpha Phi Alpha President Chinedu Unaka, a third-year sociology major, said the fraternities’ goal for the event was to get 60 participants to join the registry.
Nu Alpha Kappa community service chair Fernando Camarena, a fourth-year sociology major, said this year’s drive was more successful than last year’s.
“The turnout has been really good,” Camarena said. “Last year we only had 18 people, and it’s a great improvement.”
The process of joining the registry takes only about 10 minutes, and consists of filling out a form and submitting to a mouth swab. Members then remain on the registry until they turn 61. Donations are only requested once a suitable match is found with a patient in need, Account Executive for the Southern California Region of the National Marrow Donor Program Holly Collier said.
“Patients are most likely to match someone of the same race or ethnic heritage,” Collier said.
Collier said since 80 percent of the donors already on the registry are Caucasian, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities are encouraged to donate.
Marrow is a soft tissue in the bone that contains blood cells and aids in a healthy immune system. The body needs marrow to fight colds and cuts. Additionally, transplants of the substance can help treat patients with immunodeficiency diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. Donated marrow regenerates and grows back within four to six weeks.
During transplantation, healthy bone marrow is given to patients whose bone marrow is not working properly.
The marrow is transfused through a vein, and, if the donor and recipient are compatible, the healthy marrow can replace the old bone marrow.
There are two ways to donate – either through a marrow donation or a stem cell donation. According to Collier, some people are hesitant to donate bone marrow because they believe the procedure is painful. However, the donor is put under anesthesia during the procedure, Collier said, and the soreness does not last for more than a few days.
“It’s no worse than a day of snowboarding,” Collier said. “Soreness and stiffness for a few days is worth potentially saving someone’s life.”