Marrow drive looks to expand
Instead of the usual exhausted pre-meds pouring over their biology textbooks on Wednesday night, the study room in the Danforth dormitory was full of students filling out paperwork, swabbing their cheeks and contributing to the campus movement to increase bone marrow donors.
This week, the Washington University Marrow Registration (WUMR) is sponsoring an initiative in conjunction with the National Marrow Donor Program, a national organization that links more than 11 million donors worldwide to patients in need.
For more than seven years, the National Marrow Donor Program has been visiting the University in an effort to attract donors. The program also works with other colleges in Missouri, such as Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri and several local community colleges.
With an additional drive taking place at the upcoming Dance Marathon event on Saturday, WUMR is expecting more than 600 donors this year, which is almost double the usual number of 300.
WUMR has placed special emphasis this year on the ease of donating bone marrow samples. The entire process takes approximately 10 minutes of filling out paperwork and doing some simple cheek swabs.
Students are strong candidates for the program because of their age. Donors will remain on the registry until the age of 61, giving young people the best opportunity to donate.
Robin Garcia Oswald, a recruitment supervisor for the organization, hopes that all students will make the educated choice to participate.
“I would ask the students to learn a little bit more about it,” Oswald said. “It is not only a moral commitment because also a lifetime commitment.”
Although all students are a strong focus of the national program, WUMR is especially targeting freshmen to eliminate overlap and have held almost all of their drives in freshman dorms.
“I’d like to see a competition within the St. Louis area and have students [from other universities] challenge each other,” Oswald said.
Many students who participated in the bone marrow drive cited personal reasons for donating or contributing their time.
Freshman Elizabeth Riley, who volunteered to help head up the drives, participated by greeting potential donors and stirring up a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies for new registrants.
“My grandfather was diagnosed with leukemia a couple years ago. I definitely have a personal connection [to this cause],” Riley said.
Sophomore Eric Kim was one of many who registered on Wednesday, along with the rest of his suitemates.
Although Kim had been personally affected when his friend’s mother died from cancer, he said, “I would have registered anyway, but it’s definitely something you think about as you’re doing it.”
“There’s a lot of fear and misconceptions about being a bone marrow donor,” Oswald said. “We want to dispel those myths while we’re here on campus and give students an opportunity to help save a life.”