Ethan Gutzmann-Williams hopes that Augsburg students, faculty, and staff will find their way into Christensen Center this Friday and will stop by one particular table to see how they can lend a hand. Or more specifically, donate their bone marrow.
Gutzmann-Williams [pictured] has helped the Be the Match Foundation coordinate a bone marrow donor drive on campus on Friday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He became interested in the organization after meeting Kristine Reed, a Be the Match representative who is herself a recipient of a bone marrow donation.
At this week’s Community Time, Reed and Gutzmann-Williams talked about the importance of the registry and the need for people of color to join. “Seventy percent of patients in the U.S. who need a transplant don’t have a match in their family,” Reed explained. “A donor gives them a second chance at life.”
Reed went on to explain that ethnicity is an important factor in donor matching when the recipient and donor are unrelated. Therefore, people like Imani, a fifth-grader from Minneapolis who was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in 2010, need donors of color to be tested.
Imani and her father also were at Augsburg to talk about the donor registry. Her father thanked Augsburg and Gutzmann-Williams for their attention to Imani’s situation and to the needs of others waiting for donors. “For us, this is a blessing,” he said.
Gutzmann-Williams said that after he learned about the need for donors of color, he thought Augsburg and Be the Match were a good match. “Diversity is important at Augsburg, and because we have more people of color I wanted to help people like Imani and encourage students to participate.”
“This is not just for Imani,” Reed said, “but for 9,000 other patients constantly searching the registry for the match they need.”
To join the registry, potential donors will need to complete a registration form and have a cheek swab to test their DNA.
To make your experience as easy as possible, please:
1. Review the requirements to confirm that you are eligible to join.
2. Bring your driver’s license to the drive.
3. Bring the names, phone numbers, mailing addresses and e-mail addresses of two family members or friends who do not live with you nor live with each other. The NMDP will contact these people only if you are identified as a potential match for a patient and we cannot reach you. In other words, we will not solicit to the two people you list on your registration form.
To join the Be The Match Registry, all you need is to:
Be between the ages of 18 and 60 and be willing to help any patient in need.
You also need to meet health requirements. These conditions would prevent you from joining the Registry:
Most heart diseases or cancer
HIV or risk for HIV
Chronic lung diseases
Diabetes requiring insulin or diabetes-related health issues (such as kidney, heart, or eye disease)
Autoimmune/neurological disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
HIV, or at risk for HIV
Hepatitis, or at risk for hepatitis
Diseases affecting blood clotting or bleeding
Being an organ or marrow transplant recipient
Current sleep apnea
Recent back surgery, or severe or ongoing back problems