“Get Swabbed” event helps to inform students about bone marrow transplants

Abbey Haldeman, Assistant News Editor

Student Services rencently held a Bone Marrow drive event known as, “Get Swabbed.” The event which took place from 10-7 p.m. in the Henry Student Center lounge gave students the chance to sign up for the bone marrow registry and get swabbed to test and see if they could possibly be a match for someone in the future. For some students and faculty who participated in the event, it really hit homem for many of them have family memebers affected by diseases which could be helped with bone marrow transplants.

For students like Mathew Transue, a junior criminology major, bone marrow transplants hit home hard.

“I’ve been swabbed and had the blood test done,” Transue said. “My mom has Leukemia and I am a match for her.”

On Friday, Oct. 5, Student Services gave students a chance to save a life by holding a bone marrow drive on the first floor lounge in the Student Center called, “Get Swabbed.”  The event was initiated and programmed by AnnMarie Carey, service associate student services, and Alicia Bond procurement analyst in the controller’s office.

This was the first time for an event like this at Wilkes. The event, which was sponsored by a non-profit organization entitled, DKMS Americas, helped to get students signed up on the bone marrow registry.

“There are two non-profit organizations out there right now that do the bone marrow drive, Be The Match and DKMS,” Carey said. “Be The Match wanted us to raise so much money and we tried but when we researched it I found that there was another non-profit organization DKMS that we don’t have to donate. Their main thing was just getting people on the registry.”

DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world.

On their website, www.dkmsamericas.org, they said, “we lead to fight and defeat blood cancer by empowering people to take action, give bone marrow and save lives.”

For students who came to the event, they signed up to be part of the registry for bone marrow donations. The five-minute process consisted of filling out the application, swabbing their cheeks and handing in the swabs to be tested for a match.

It’s not every day that a match is found, but there are instances, like Transue’s example, when you are a match for someone.

“Every year 10,000 men, woman and children can use a transplant, but only 40 percent find a match,” said Bond.

The event’s purpose was to get students informed about bone marrow transplants. Both Carey and Bond said that they don’t think enough people know what they can accomplish by donating. Bond believes there are myths that many people believe that cause them to stray from even just registering.

“I think there is myth out there that it is very painful process because back in the day, it was. It was actually more painful for the donor than the receiver,” Bond said. “They have changed the methods of obtaining stem cells so that the process is much easier and less painful.”

Bond wants people to know there are other ways to save someone’s life besides blood peripheral donations, which contribute to 70-75 percent of the donations done today.

Student Services would enjoy being able to hold an event like this again. Their hopes are that another group on campus, such as, the nursing or pharmacy program would want to team up with them and help out. They’d like to move the event around and see where they would get the most students to get involved and sign-up.

Bond and Carey believe that holding events like this on campus is beneficial because most of the time it cost $65-$100 to register, but on a campus, you don’t have to pay at all.

“There are few times in your life when you are able to provide a gift to so many, just by sharing a small piece of yourself,” Bond said.

“I would feel great after participating, you could possibly save someone’s life,” Transue said. “You’re a little drained, but the other person is alive.”

With the help of Bond and Carey, a committee of five people has formed to continue to work on focusing the attention of students, faculty and community members toward the rewards of bone marrow transplants.