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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA aids in search for marrow

    Aubrie Vargas, a representative for the National Marrow Donor Program, coaches a group of volunteers on questions donors might ask at the upcoming bone marrow drive during a volunteer training session in the Tucson Room of the SUMC on Monday morning. The drive, held for University Teaching Center Associate Director Kristopher Weatherly, will be held on the UA Mall Tuesday and Wednesday.
    Aubrie Vargas, a representative for the National Marrow Donor Program, coaches a group of volunteers on questions donors might ask at the upcoming bone marrow drive during a volunteer training session in the Tucson Room of the SUMC on Monday morning. The drive, held for University Teaching Center Associate Director Kristopher Weatherly, will be held on the UA Mall Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Students and volunteers are coming together in an effort to save one of UA’s own by conducting a search for the bone marrow match that could save Kris Weatherly’s life.

    Weatherly, associate director of The University Teaching Center, has been diagnosed with a Leukemia-like cancer. Weatherly, is one of thousands in need of a life-saving marrow transplant.

    Today and tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the UA mall, students and volunteers are encouraged to join Be The Match Registry, the new name for the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, a nationwide organization giving thousands of patients a second chance at life.

    The two-day drive on the UA Mall is an effort to recruit people to register to be a bone marrow donor, in the hopes of finding a match to save Weatherly’s life, and he has to find one quickly.

    Weatherly is a UA graduate from 1995, and has been with the University Teaching Center since 2007.

    “”Organizing an event like this usually takes about four to six weeks, but it took us one,”” said Terri Riffe, director of the University Teaching Center. “”It was the shortest planning in history, but we need to find a match as quickly as possible. We are trying to help a person who is important to us and in doing so we have a real potential for helping other people too.””

    Although an actual bone marrow donation will not be taken during the drive, it is an opportunity for interested donors to get their name placed on the registry. A cheek swab is performed and if a match is made to a patient in need, the donor will be contacted, said Aubrie Vargas, the registry’s regional director in Phoenix.

    “”Every day, about 6,000 patients search the registry, looking for a match,”” Vargas said. “”In times of tragedy, that’s when we have the best opportunity to educate people. We need as much help as we can get.””

    According to the registry, more than 10,000 people are estimated to need marrow or blood cell transplants each year. In 2008, the registry aided more than 4,000 people.

    Vargas got involved with Be The Match registry after she was diagnosed in 2002 with lymphoma. She recently hit her six-year mark of being cancer-free.

    “”For me, it was getting involved with an organization where I can make an impact,”” Vargas said. “”More people would be able to find matches and find cures if they would join the registry. It’s just a matter of getting involved. A complete stranger can save your life.””

    According to Riffe, Weatherly’s brother was not a match. That is when Riffe contacted Be The Match Registry, where she and her colleagues have been in search of a marrow donor.

    “”He is in desperate need of bone marrow, that’s when you turn to people that you don’t know,”” Riffe said.

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