By Jackie Ordonio
Throughout campus last week, students may have seen white tents that read “Be The Match” on them. Be The Match is a global organization that works to inform people about donating bone marrow. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers such as Leukemia and Lymphoma. Thankfully, a cure exists with the help of those willing to donate bone marrow for a transplant.
Texas State University students signed up to join the registry of donors with the help of volunteers. Registration required participants to have their cheek cells swabbed for a sample of cells in order for “Be The Match” to find donors. Donors are placed on a standby list for when their blood matches with a patient.
Adriana Estrada, the GenCure Community Engagement Represenative says that college students fit in the ideal age range to save more lives.
“Studies have shown that between the ages 18 and 24, your cells regenerate the fastest. On the patient end of things, the patient will go through a lot of chemo and radiation to wipe out their non-working system and bring their immunity down to zero. So if we find a match, they’re so similar in their ancestry that when they donate either their stem cells or marrow to their patient, those cells wont realize they aren’t in the right body and they won’t attack their patient. Instead, they’re gonna replicate and give that patient a brand new, healthy working blood system.”
If a donor is chosen for a transplant, a doctor will decide which process of donation they feel the patient will benefit most from. Peripheral blood stem cell donation is one of the two choices where the donors’ blood is drawn through a needle and passed through a machine to filter out and collect blood-forming cells. Most PSBC donations take about 8 hours in one sitting. The second option for donation is a withdrawal of liquid bone marrow from the lower back which takes about a day. Either procedure collects healthy blood cells to inject into the patient to rebuild their own cells.
The matching process is based on HLA, a protein found on most cells. HLA matching is the most important thing for matching a patient with a donor. There are many different people that need help, and therefore, the more donors there are; the better chance of someone getting cured.
For more information on how to save a life, go to www.bethematch.org.
Featured image by Jackie Ordonio.