Gannon community could ‘Be the Match’

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Gannon University’s “Give a Spit,” initiative is its way of helping Be the Match generate bone marrow donations from student, faculty and staff on campus.

Be the Match is a bone marrow registration organization seeking out potential donors for people in need of bone marrow transplants. The people who need the transplants are those with a certain type of cancer, such as leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma or sickle cell traits.

Liam Nadler, a senior political science mjor and Gannon liaison for Be the Match, said he loves everything that Be the Match has done on campus so far.

“I believe that swabbing your mouth and getting registered is one of the easiest and greatest service opportunities a person could do,” Nadler said. “The entire process of registration and mouth swabbing takes less than five minutes, but could possibly save a life.”

Nadler said that at the Be the Match events people are not only entered into the registry, they also have their mouths swabbed to get a baseline for possible matches to a patient on the donor list.

He said only about 1 in 500 people are a match, so it is necessary to have as many people swabbed and registered as possible. A match is made when the sample of cells collected from the cheek swab compare to the specific protein markers, known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA), with the HLA markers of patients in need of a transplant.

If matched, they can choose to donate the cells for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

There are two ways to donate bone marrow if matched with a transplant patient. The two options for donating bone marrow are through a non-surgical peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation or through a surgical bone marrow donation.

A PBSC donation would include the donor being injected with filgrastim, a medication that increases the number of blood-forming cells into the bloodstream, for a total of five days before the actual donation.

When it is time to donate, the donor will have blood removed by a needle on one arm that will pass the blood through a machine to separate blood-forming cells and the remaining blood will then be returned back to the donor through a needle on the other arm.

The more commonly known form of donation is a procedure that takes place in the operating room where a doctor will use needles to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of the donor’s pelvic bone. Anesthesia is given to the donors so there is no pain felt during the procedure.

Nadler said the process is not as painful as the media portray it to be.

Gannon has held three events on campus thus far and has swabbed and registered almost 200 people. Currently, Be the Match is in the process of checking the possibility of matches from those who were registered, Nadler said.

Jessica Kallenborn, a senior pre-med sport and exercise science major, said she has taken part in one of the events that was held on campus and is now waiting to see if she was a match.

Kallenborn said the initiative is not only an amazing opportunity; it is also an illustration of Gannon’s commitment to its community.

“Gannon’s decision to participate in the Be the Match program helps to showcase our school’s desire to help in our community,” Kallenborn said. “Being given the opportunity to potentially save someone’s life is an incredible experience, and all you had to do was get your cheek swabbed.

“Even if you do not become matched with someone in need, seeing how many people from the Gannon community came out and were willing to help is a great feeling.”

Nadler said he thinks the opportunity is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“It is one of the simplest – yet greatest – gifts you could give to not only another human, but also their family and friends,” Nadler said.

For more information on the next event to be held at Gannon, contact Nadler at [email protected]

BECKY HILKER

[email protected]