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Bone marrow drive seeks donors

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 01:10

Marrow drive

Roger Zhang

Hershel Patel, Class of 2005, swabs his mouth to register as a bone marrow donor Saturday morning at Rudder Fountain Plaza.

The Texas A&M Cancer Society made a bold statement on Saturday in the fight against cancer before the A&M-LSU football game.

The American Childhood Cancer Organization and Future Aggie Nurses teamed up with the A&M cancer society to hold a bone marrow drive in Rudder Plaza from 7 to 11 a.m. with a goal of registering as many potential bone marrow donors as possible.

Christina Ruiz, senior molecular and cell biology major and president of Texas A&M Cancer Society, said 283 people registered to be a potential bone marrow donors, and the A&M cancer society received a few monetary donations.

“It was successful because every person that gets swabbed is a potential life saver,” Ruiz said. “I wish I could thank every single person that got swabbed.”

The German Bone Marrow Donor Center, the largest bone marrow donor center in the world, provided the materials to swab potential donors and helped in the planning the event. The center is a non-profit organization that recruits volunteer bone marrow donors around the world. The people that are most in need of bone marrow transplants are people with leukemia, lymphoma and melanoma.

Amy Roseman, donor recruitment coordinator for the center, came in to help with the event and said it was great to see another drive put on at Texas A&M.

“Last spring A&M had 346 donors with seven potential donors,” Roseman said. “That is statistically very good. The goal was to get even more life-saving Aggies from this drive’s donors.”

Volunteers ran the event, with 83 people helping. Each volunteer had to attend a training session to learn about the process in order to be able to answer any questions donors had. Volunteers walked around tailgates and Kyle Field to try to get people to donate.

Nikki Banneyer, sophomore psychology major and president of American Childhood Cancer Organization, said there is a negative stigma when people thinking of donating bone marrow.

“The stigma is inaccurate,” Banneyer said. “About 80 to 85 percent of the time when an individual donates bone marrow, it is much like donating platelets. The remaining percentage is characterized by a needle having to extract the bone marrow from your hip bone but the pain is minimal, comparable to falling down.”

The groups that put on the event are hoping that the drive helps change the negative stigma that goes along with bone marrow transplants. Ruiz said she wants to stress that it is not as painful as everyone thinks.

“This is a 1-2 hour, outpatient, surgical procedure,” Ruiz said. “Most compare the pain felt after the procedure to bruising a hip, which in perspective, is totally worth saving someone's life. It's a pain in the hip to save a life.”

Megan Girvan, sophomore environmental design major and member of the Texas A&M Cancer Society, said her membership, like many others, runs deeper than being involved in other organizations.

“My dad was diagnosed with lymphoma when he was nineteen,” Girvan said. “His treatment involved cycles of radiation. Thankfully, he was able to be cancer free some time later. It’s hard to imagine going through that at the age I am. I joined cancer society to spread awareness and support those that are in similar situations.”


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