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Be The Match at UMD

Updated: 04/08/2014 12:30 PM
Created: 04/08/2014 12:22 PM WDIO.com
By: Brittany Falkers

Tuesday a group of students at the University of Minnesota Duluth asked other students, staff and folk like you to be the match.  The bone marrow match that is.

Blood cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.  In fact, blood cancer kills nearly 150 people each day or more than six people every hour, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

That's why the Multicultural Pharmacy Student Organization (MPSO) at UMD have been putting on bone marrow drives since 2007.  There is always a need for donors because six out of ten patients do not find one and die of blood cancer.

About four years ago Chris Garner was diagnosed with a disease similar to leukemia.  His only option was to have a bone marrow transfer, called stem cell transplantation.  When patients cannot undergo any more blood transfusions, this is sort of the last resort, Garner said.

He was soon put on the Be the Match registry in hopes of finding a life-saving donor.  For some the wait can take years, but for Garner his bone marrow match happened in months. He says words can't describe the thanks he feels.  He says it was that match that saved his life.

"People like myself, we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Be the Match and a lot of the times its our only option. Sometimes it's a situation between surviving and not," Garner said.

All it takes to find out if you are a life saving match is some simple forms and a quick swab of the cheek.  You'll then be put on a list as an available donor.  Kristine Reed with Be the Match says drives like this are crucial because there are many patients out there waiting for a match.

"It's extremely important, every four minutes there's someone in the United State's that is diagnosed with a blood cancer or a type of illness that is going to need to have marrow transfer," Reed said. 

There is also a great need for a more diverse population because people with the same ethnicity are more likely to match each other, Reed said.  But they need any donors willing to help to find out if they can be the match.

"It's extremely important that we add as many people as we can to help all patients, because right now, we're only able to help 50 percent," Reed said.  "It's extremely complicated process to find matching donors."

You can register to Be the Match Thursday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at UMD's Kirby Plaza Lower Level, in from of the book store.

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