Bone Marrow donor drive registers unprecedented numbers

Klarissa Fitzpatrick

Thursday is the final day to register with the Be The Match marrow registry as a stem cell or bone marrow donor in the fourth annual drive.

Students from Texas State University and UT organized this year’s drive in an effort to increase potential donors. By Wednesday, recruitment was higher than in previous years. If the drive continues registering students at its current rate, it will reach its goal of 2,000 students registered, according to Iota Nu Delta president Raj Jana. 

“This year’s drive has been incredible,” Jana said. “I know the rain put a little bit of a damper on it, but this has been a passion project of ours for a while.”

Iota Nu Delta is hosting the drive in collaboration with Texas Public Health, Texas 4000, Sigma Lambda Beta, Sigma Phi Omega and Texas DoSomething. Additionally, students from the Texas State-based organization Cancer Advocacy Movement for Colleges and Outreach assisted with manning the six tables positioned around campus.

Texas State radiation therapy senior Leslie Amos said finding registrants from multiple ethnicities is important, because bone marrow donor matches are based on genetics, not blood type. Amos also said few donors actually donate marrow, because in most cases the doctors can extract stem cells from a blood sample to use for treatment.

“The more the donor looks like the patient, the more likely they’ll be a match,” Amos said. “Eighty-five percent of the time, a family member is not a match. If the patient is white or Caucasian, their odds of finding a match are one in 100,000. If they are any other ethnicity, it’s one in 800,000.”

If the drive reaches its goal of registering 2,000 potential donors, it will be the biggest drive the National Marrow Donor Program has had, Amos said. During its first day, the drive registered 653 potential donors, a large increase from previous years. In the first year, it was 52.

“It allows you to do your part to fight cancer,” Jana said. “It’s not just giving money, it’s something more than that. Because if you do become a match for somebody, which is extremely rare, you have the chance to directly influence that person’s family and them.”

Elementary education junior Andrea Riojas registered as a donor in part because friends and family members have fought cancer.

“I just feel a calling to help a child or an adult that needs bone marrow for any issues,” Riojas said. “I’m scared of needles, but I know that’s something I could get over if it was to help somebody.”