SNA strives to find bone marrow donors at MU

Saving a life can begin with a simple swab of a cheek.

Marshall’s Student Nurses Association is trying to help accomplish this goal through a bone marrow registry drive with Be The Match, a nonprofit organization, Feb. 15 in the Memorial Student Center. Anyone from ages 18 to 44 with no major preexisting diseases are eligible to register.

“The main idea is that Be The Match connects critically ill patients with a life-saving bone marrow donor,” senior nursing major Molly Arthur said. “Most patients do not find a marrow match within their own family, so they have to rely on a complete stranger to donate to them.”

The SNA decided to do this drive after meeting several patients through their clinicals at Cabell Huntington Hospital who have the possibility of receiving a bone marrow transplant through the course of their treatment.

“I know a little boy who went recently to see if he had any matches to get a transplant, and they had 10 people that were matches for him,” senior nursing major Jenna Fields said. “If he would need one later on, they would wipe out his immune system and replace it through the bone marrow to fight off the disease.”

In order to register, donors will go through a series of questions about their medical history and will have their cheeks swabbed to collect cells, which will take about 10 minutes. According to Be The Match registry, only one in every 430 people go on to donate.

There are three ways to donate: peripheral blood stem cells through an IV, bone marrow through the hip by a surgical procedure and cord blood after giving birth.

“They put an IV in, they take the blood out and spin out what they need and everything else goes back into your body. It’s just like giving blood, and you potentially save a life,” senior nursing major Alison Evans said. 

The registry drive is taking place in the Don Morris Room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 15. The SNA has a goal of registering 100 donors.

“The more people on the registry, the more likely you are to find a match,” Evans said. “The goal is to get as many people on the registry as possible to potentially raise someone’s percentage of finding a match.”

Heather Barker can be contacted at [email protected]