“It’s critically important that we host the drive because patients with 73 different diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma, are dying for lack of donors,” said Londia Goff, R.N., transplant coordinator and nurse clinician for the Osborn Hematopoietic Malignancy and Transplantation Program at the Cancer Center. “The shortage is greatest for minority donors. I have an 80 percent chance of finding a donor for a patient of European ancestry. For African-Americans, the percentage drops to about 3 percent.”
During the registration process, potential donors – men and women ages 18 to 44 – will be asked several questions about their medical history, medications, travel history and social behaviors. Someone at risk for transmitting bloodborne infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C will not be eligible to donate.
“The Donor Program is seeking younger donors because younger cells engraft better with better outcomes for the recipient,” Goff said. “As we age, our cells age also.”
Those determined eligible to be a potential donor will meet with a WVU Healthcare clinician, who will collect DNA from their cheek with a swab.
“This is a painless process that enables us to collect cheek cells that will be tested for tissue type, entered into the national registry, then sent to transplant centers looking for donors,” said Goff. “If a donor is a potential match, he or she will be called for additional testing.”
She added that it is crucial that the donor respond promptly because high-risk patients are desperately waiting to receive their transplants.
For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor visit bethematch.com or call the Osborn Blood and Marrow Transplant Program office at 304-598-4520 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087