Friday, February 27, 2009


Nicole DeChant

Most people shudder at the thought of donating bone marrow. But everything isn't as it appears on 'House' or 'Grey's Anatomy'. That is why I not only attended the bone marrow testing drive for my story, but I participated as well. Just a simple swab and you too could have the chance to save someone's life.

I could only include so much information in my television story because of time. So that's why I'd like to share everything I learned at the bone marrow testing drive. There's such an abundance of information, but I think it's really important that people know all of it.

Friends are Inspirational
This amazing story all started when Ohio University student Erica Cohen found out that her friend Tony from high school was diagnosed with leukemia. She decided to do some research and look into bone marrow testing. In my interview with her, Erica explained to me why she's so passionate about this project. Listen to Erica's story in the video below.

Erica Cohen tells us why she's so passionate about this project.

Erica comes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Not long after her friend Tony was diagnosed, Erica found another person she knew in need of a transplant; a girl named Amy Katz. Amy is a 16-year-old girl, also from Pittsburgh, who was diagnosed leukemia in 2003 at age 11. She has been searching for a marrow donor for five years. Amy needs a bone marrow transplant to recover from this devastating disease. Check out Amy's full story.

A World Record Event
And I wasn't the only one who attended. I became a part of about 2,300 other people who broke the world record for college testing drives.

How did an event like this get organized? Erica Cohen found DKMS, a non-profit bone marrow center based in New York. DKMS donor recruitment coordinator Amanda Nable told me it was all about helping Erica build relationships. In order to get as many people involved as possible, Erica and Amanda coordinated with other student organizations to help with planning, promotion and advertising.

Erica also had to find a way to get the community involved, so she asked local businesses to donate money for snacks for volunteers, fliers for the event and prizes for the raffle table. Unbelieveable! This is an incredible task to take on and I can't even imagine the stress that Erica went through to do all of this while attending college. But it was all worth it to her!

How to Save a Life
Getting tested to be added to the National Marrow Registry (NMR) was really easy. It only took a simple cheek swab and a one-page form with your contact information. I felt kind of dorky doing it on camera, especially since I kept messing up so I had to shoot it over a few times. Watch the video below to see me do it!

Watch me as I demonstrate how easy it is to swab!

This is Important!
Bone marrow is needed because it's so hard for patients in need of it to find their genetic match. DKMS donor recruitment coordinator Amanda Nable says that, "Around 20,000 patients search for a marrow donor each year; however, only three in 10 people will find a lifesaving marrow match. That number is even less for minorities. With African American patients, only 17% of them will find a match and the percentage for Hispanics is even lower."

It was quick, and many students managed to do it in between their classes. OU student Dan Crone got swabbed because he thought the opportunity to save someone's life was very important.

OU student Dan Crone explains why he decided to donate.

The DNA on Your Swab
When you swab the inside of your mouth, you are collecting tissue samples with your DNA on it. Your sample is then tissue-typed and placed in the National Marrow Registry anonymously and isn't removed until you reach the age of 61. Yikes! That's a long time. But the National Marrow Registry is searched daily by at least 6,000 patients. If you're a match, the National Marrow Registry contacts DKMS, and then DKMS will contact the donors. You must be between the ages of 18 and 55 to be added to the National Marrow Registry. Click here to see a video of how bone marrow transplants work.

Students who couldn't donate for health or personal reasons, were able to donate money. Also, you could purchase raffle tickets for some amazing prizes such as an autographed Cleveland Indians helmet and an iPod.

The event was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It was a proud moment for Ohio University!

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