National registry looking for bone marrow donors

Registration will be open for students Wednesday in Coffman Union.

by Sarah Nienaber

Carroll Vance knows first-hand the importance of bone marrow.

Four years ago his wife survived acute myelogenous leukemia after receiving a bone marrow transfusion at the University of Minnesota where Vance is a professor of agronomy and plant genetics.

On Wednesday, he, the Panhellenic Council, FarmHouse fraternity and the National Marrow Donor ProgramâÄôs Be The Match Campaign are giving students the opportunity to register as possible bone marrow donors.

The program is a national registry of DNA that is used to find close matches for those who are in need of a bone marrow transfusion.

“Students can come and register to be put on a bone marrow registration list,” said Dan Helvig, co-host of the event.

Helvig said that the registration process takes little time and requires no more than a few questions and a cheek swab of students.

According to their website, NMDP facilitated more than 1,600 marrow transplants in 2009 for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia using donorsâÄô marrow.

While registration is free to those who wish to sign up, processing each sample received will cost about $100.

This is why Vance and his wife will be donating up to $2,500 to the campaign.

“This is such a huge issue and they need young people to sign up and know about it,” Vance said.

Melinda Baxter, outreach manager for blood and marrow transplant program at the University Medical Center, Fairview and Amplatz ChildrenâÄôs Hospital, said donations can now take place in two ways.

Marrow can be extracted directly from the bone, usually the pelvic bone, using a large bore needle, or through the peripheral blood. In the second procedure, a five-day drug is given to donors that will force the marrow cells into the blood so it can later be extracted through a method similar to donating plasma.

Randy Knutson plans to show up Wednesday to register his DNA. He has personal reasons to sign up for the cause.

A member of his fraternity has overcome primary central nervous system lymphoma due to the reception of a bone marrow transfusion.

“My main motive is to help people like John [from the fraternity], you know, people who have leukemia or lymphoma or cancer, stuff like that,” Knutson said.

The donation registration will take place in the Great Hall of Coffman Union from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.