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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus bone marrow drive seeks donors

    One woman’s struggle with blood cancer has turned into a national campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the need for minority bone marrow, and organizers have brought the cause to our own backyard – the UA Mall.

    The community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and Match Pia, a minority recruitment group certified by the National Marrow Donor Program in organizing donations, registered bone marrow donors on the Mall yesterday, raising awareness about minority bone marrow – and the need for donors to help cancer victims, said Hemant Wadhwani, co-founder of Match Pia.

    Match Pia was founded two years ago when a close friend needed a life-saving marrow transplant and had difficulty because she was a minority, Wadhwani said.

    Since then, Match Pia has flourished and is now sponsoring marrow donations at universities in more than 100 cities, including Harvard, Rutgers and Princeton, Wadhwani said.

    “”What started out as a need for one woman turned into a nationwide campaign,”” Wadhwani said.

    Ashwin Lakhi, a sociology senior and pledge educator for Alpha Phi Omega said he would like the marrow drive to occur each semester.

    “”This is a good opportunity for minority groups to come together for a common good,”” Lakhi said.

    The National Marrow Donor Program has a database of about 6 million donors, close to 35 percent of whom are from minority groups, said Patrick Thompson, senior media and public relations coordinator for the NMDP.

    This drive was geared specifically toward registering minorities, so non-minority students who wished to register had to pay a $52 fee imposed by the NMDP.

    The fee comes as a result of inadequate state funding to cover the cost of tissue testing, Thompson said. Because minority matches are especially difficult to find, the NMDP covers the cost of testing for minority donors.

    “”The purpose is to improve all patients’ chances of finding a matched donor by increasing the diversity of the NMDP Registry,”” Thompson said.

    Wadhwani said that while he feels this policy drives away non-minority students, Match Pia has an obligation to enact the fees of their sponsor.

    But the fee did not totally restrict student participation, he added.

    Students who donated in the drive said they did so in an effort to help others.

    “”As long as I am healthy, I’d like to give others the chance to be so as well,”” said Leo Federico, a music education junior. “”We need a little more selflessness in the world.””

    This is a good opportunity for minority groups to come together for a common good.
    – Ashwin Lakhi, sociology senior and pledge educator for Alpha Phi Omega

    Lindsey Martinez, a physiology junior, said cancer within her family motivated her to donate.

    “”I try to help out in any way possible,”” Martinez added.

    Donors gave tissue samples from inside their cheeks in order to register. If the donor’s tissue is a match, the NMDP will contact the donor and direct him to the nearest hospital, Wadhwani said.

    Technological advancements have ended the need to draw marrow from within hip or back bones. Instead, blood is drawn from the arms and stem cells are used to regenerate marrow, Wadhwani said.

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