Ureact Swab Drive cut short by staffing, venue issues

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Last week, Marshall University directed the Ureact Swab Drive for bone marrow donors. It was expected to take place Sept. 16-20 but because of rental and staffing issues, the final two days were canceled. 

DKMS is the largest global bone marrow donor center and the creator of Ureact. According to the DKMS website, Ureact is an awareness campaign for college campuses to try and find a young, diverse group of potential bone marrow donors. 

Marshall has been participating in the swab drives for nearly four years. The link between Ureact and Marshall is West Virginia’s only DKMS donor recruitment ambassador, Adam Guthrie, who is a fourth-year nursing student at Marshall. 

This year, Guthrie set out to have the longest swab drive yet, five days at the Memorial Student Center. He was able to get more than one hundred volunteers trained and ready to swab people. After two and a half days, the team had swabbed 200 people on campus, sticking to Guthrie’s goal of one hundred swabs a day. Unfortunately, the third day is when the team started having trouble.

“We weren’t there the whole time because they were doing that Funktafest, so people couldn’t hear us,” Guthrie said. “It was just not convenient, so we left early that day.”

However, Guthrie did not know the third day would be the final one instead of the expected five days to swab potential donors. After some staffing problems and issues with retaining their spot at by the fountain, the Ureact volunteers had to cancel the last two days of the swab drive. 

Guthrie explained that while he has never had any rental issues before, this is not the only swab drive that has not gone as smoothly as planned. 

“I have had swab drive(s) where I’ve only registered like two people before, and you just don’t have anyone show up,” Guthrie said. 

Guthrie said he does not let setbacks like this phase him, though. While he was training to become an ambassador for the state, Guthrie had to learn how to problem solve for potential issues like lack of staff. And while he knows that they could have gotten more people swabbed had they been able to do the last two days, he said he is still eager to send off the 200 potential matches that the team collected.

Guthrie said the DKMS headquarters in New York has a new system which makes the process of sending swabs simple. With their new digital system, where people register on tablets, it has become easier and less time-consuming for Guthrie to make sure all the information is sent together.

“Besides going more green and using less paper, I just turn them (the tablets) off and put them in a box, and I can ship them out,” Guthrie said. “I don’t have to sort all the paperwork like I did the other times.”

Guthrie, being the only ambassador in West Virginia, takes the time to assist other campuses as well. Once all the swabs from Marshall’s drive are shipped out, he is on to the next swab drive event, which is taking place in October during West Virginia Wesleyan’s homecoming festivities.

Emily Hayslett can be contacted at [email protected].