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CLT Club holding 'Be The Match' bone marrow registry drive at all campuses

Oct. 30, 2013

Image of person getting a cheek swab Individuals ages 18 to 44 can join the National Marrow Donor Program's "Be The Match" bone marrow registry with a simple cheek swab. The Clinical Laboratory Technology Club will visit all four campuses during the first week of November to perform the swabs.

This November, students, faculty and staff at all four of the Community College of Rhode Island campuses will have the opportunity to do something truly extraordinary: They may be able to save a life by giving just a few minutes of their time.

Students from the Clinical Laboratory Technology (CLT) Club will visit each campus on designated days to recruit individuals ages 18 to 44 to join the bone marrow registry as part of the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match” program.

“We’re trying to increase awareness of the registry,” explained CLT and Histotechnology Program Director Maddie Josephs. “CCRI has a large student population, and most of it is people that are in the target range,” she added.

Josephs said the registry works to help change the future of the 12,000 patients per year whose only hope for a matching bone marrow transplant comes from a donor outside of their family. Because, according to data from the National Marrow Donor Program, every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, that’s an already hefty figure with the potential for swift growth. Josephs, who joined the registry many years ago during a bone marrow drive to save a young child, said that it didn’t take much to convince her CLT students that organizing and sponsoring this opportunity was the right thing to do.

“My students are actually the people who, when they graduate, would be doing the testing to find matches,” she said, noting that each year the CLT Club participates in some kind of service work tied to their studies. “Also, this year, the Rhode Island Blood Center sent over a patient with their speaker. He told his story, and it was absolutely compelling. The bottom line is that because one college student from North Carolina got her cheek swabbed during a drive on her campus, he is alive today. My students were moved, and right away they knew this was what they wanted to do.”

At each drive, students from the CLT program will be on hand to swab each potential donor’s cheek and collect information for the national registry. Potential donors are entered into the national database, where they will stay until their 61st birthdays. If, at some point, an individual is identified as a potential match for someone in need of bone marrow, the registry will get in touch and ask if he or she is still willing to donate. If the answer is yes, he or she will undergo further, more specific blood tests and, if determined to be a match, will have one more chance to decide whether to donate. Donors are then injected with a drug that will help boost the production of blood-forming cells.

Josephs said that many potential donors are reluctant to join the registry because they think the process of harvesting the marrow is overly painful; but, she was quick to correct, with advances in modern medical technology, this is far from the truth. “This demographic of donors is typically pretty healthy and they tend to recover quickly. When you weigh some small discomfort with the fact that you may have saved somebody’s life, it’s a small price to pay,” she said. “And not all donations involve surgery.”

The “Be The Match” drives will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, in the cafeteria at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln; Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the Atrium at the Liston Campus in Providence; Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Atrium at the Newport County Campus, and Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Great Hall at the Knight Campus in Warwick. Learn more about “Be The Match” online.

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Last Updated: 8/25/16