WCU sorority chapter to sponsor bone marrow donor drive Oct. 28

The Kappa Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Western Carolina University will sponsor a bone marrow donor drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at A.K. Hinds University Center.

The event in the University Center Multipurpose Room is being held to add prospective donors to the “Be The Match Registry,” the largest and most diverse marrow donor registry in the world, and in turn, to help the thousands of patients who need a donor each year, but are unable to find one, said Keshia Martin, adviser for the sorority at WCU and resident director at WCU’s Norton Road Residence Hall.

To join the national registry, individuals must be between the ages of 18 and 60, be willing to donate to any patient in need, and meet specific health guidelines.

To join the registry, an individual completes paperwork and swipes the inside of his or her cheek with a swab. After being added to the registry, if an individual is found to be a donor match, he or she will be contacted for further tests, Martin said.

Contrary to popular belief, pieces of bone are not removed from the donor, now all marrow donations involve surgery, and the actual procedure is not painful, Martin said. Also, donors do not have to pay for the donation procedure, she said.

Statistics indicate that 70 percent of patients who need a marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their families, and each year there are at least 10,000 people whose only hope for a cure is a transplant from someone outside their family. Fewer than four out of 10 patients will receive the transplant they need.

Because tissue types are inherited, patients are most likely to match someone of their own race and ethnicity, and registry members of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are especially needed, Martin said.

During the Oct. 28 event, donations will be accepted for the Be The Match Foundation, which provides financial assistance to patients’ families.

More information about the Be The Match Registry is available at the Web site http://bethematch.org.

Individuals with questions about the bone marrow donor drive at WCU should contact Martin at kmartin@email.wcu.edu or Tiffany Smith at tweetybird_mg06@yahoo.com.