Students can swab their cheeks to save a life during bone marrow donor drive

Brooke Schwartz, Adminstration Reporter

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With blood cancer being the third leading cause of cancer deaths, Eastern’s Colleges Against Cancer is partnering with DKMS to help increase the amount of bone marrow donors through a bone marrow donor drive.

DKMS is a German-based international non-profit organization dedicated to blood cancer awareness and cures.

This drive will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Bridge Lounge of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 55. Other requirements for donating include living permanently in the United States, being in good general health and being at a minimum 4 feet 10 inches and 105 pounds.

The process includes a cheek swab, which will be done by volunteers from Colleges Against Cancer and others who were trained specifically for this job, and filling out a registration form.

Once a sample is collected, it goes on record and the donator will be notified only if they are a match for someone.

Some donors are never called while some might be called years down the line, but at that point it is still the donor’s choice of whether to go through with the donation or not.

After donating, donators will get a call or text from DKMS to confirm their commitment, and then they will be officially registered for bone marrow donations, according to the DKMS pamphlet.

The chance of finding a donor in a family or friend group is slim, according to the DKMS website.

“Only 30 percent of all patients are able to find a compatible bone marrow donor in their family,” the site said.

Having a donor database with many different people is important to ensure the health of those who cannot find a donor around them, the website said.

Colleges Against Cancer adviser Cecilia Yoakum said the earlier students decide to give back to their world, the more likely it is that students will continue to give throughout their lives.

This event specifically is meant to involve the campus in supporting cancer patients and survivors, Yoakum said.

“The Charleston area and the Mattoon area have a huge Relay for Life event, but it’s mostly community people, so this is something that we’re trying to do as a college,” she said.

Yoakum said anyone interested in getting involved with Colleges Against Cancer and future events should contact her at [email protected]

Madison Carlson, president of Colleges Against Cancer and a transfer junior family and consumer sciences major, said the people who get involved are what make this club, and Eastern itself, important.

“It’s all about community,” she said.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]