Bone marrow donors sought at Tech

July 13, 2017


Sigma Rho Alpha participated with DKMS to register students around Louisiana Tech’s campus to perform a mouth swab test for the bone marrow transplant. – Photo by Danny Do

Tiffany Wilkins
Staff Reporter | tmw048@latech.edu


With blood cancer being the most common pediatric cancer in the U.S. and more than 170,000 Americans discovering they are living with blood cancer each year, the search for donors and cures becomes more intense than ever.


The international nonprofit organization DKMS, which was founded in Germany 25 years ago, searches for donors in the United States, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and Poland.


On May 1, Sigma Rho Alpha participated with DKMS for the first time to register students around Louisiana Tech’s campus to perform a mouth swab test for a possible bone marrow transplant match.


Amy Roseman, a representative of DKMS, helped distribute information and statistics about blood cancer.


“The only thing that’s hard for us is that 2 percent of Americans have registered and we have 14,000 people looking for matching donors,” Roseman said. “Only 40 percent will find a matching donor.”


The reason why they are doing this deed is to find a cure for thousands of patients including the Allums family.


According to DKMS, 3-year-old Elizabeth Allums and her 20-year-old brother James Christopher Allums have a rare blood disorder, fanconi anemia, and are in need to find a matching donor.


To become eligible as a donor you must meet these qualifications: must be between the ages of 18 and 55, in general good health, willing to donate to any patient, not already registered, at least 4’10’’ and 105 pounds or more and not a member of the U.S. military, active in the Reserves or in ROTC.


“The students who registered yesterday will receive a confirmation call that will help them to understand what they signed for,” Roseman said. “They’ll stay in the database until they turn 61.”


Roseman said those who are in the military have their own centers to register in and undergo the process of donating.


Lauren Colvin, an assistant professor of the department of health informatics and information management at Tech, was also assisted DKMS in the bone marrow drive alongside Sigma Rho Alpha.


Colvin described the two ways that the center would draw blood from the newest donors and said students were thrilled that it would come from their arms.


“Most people were really excited to know that it did not have to be the bone marrow aspiration from the hip bone,” Colvin said. “Because that’s the traditional way to extract the blood.”


According to the DKMS website, the peripheral blood stem cell collection (PBSC), which is drawn from the arm, is used in more than 75 percent of cases where the cells are drawn from the blood stream. Bone marrow collection is used in less than 25 percent  of cases and is collected from the back of the hip bone through an outpatient surgical procedure performed under anesthesia.


“Some students were worried about the procedure coming from the hip bone,” Colvin said. “But they said that they would do what they had to do in order to help.”


There are two ways to register as a donor: at a donor registration drive or online at dkms.org. The organization does not charge anyone to register to help save those awaiting a donor. The registration includes eligibility and health screening, filling out a form and swabbing both cheeks for 30 seconds to collect cells for use in matching with a patient.


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