DKMS Bone Marrow Drive
College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines
On Wednesday, April 17th, the Department of Social work, in conjunction with the Medical Lab Science of UND, hosted a Bone Marrow Drive to register individuals as potential bone marrow donors. Dr. Melanie Sage and Mary Coleman were instrumental in bringing the drive to UND.
The Bone Marrow Drive struck Dr. Sage on a personal level. "I asked the social work club to lead this event when I found out that one of my childhood friends was looking for a marrow donor for her 2-year old son Hendrix. He was diagnosed with Leukemia, and they could not find a close match to save him. Although his mom is a medical doctor, she was helpless when it came to saving her own son and had to hope for the kindness of strangers on the registry. "
DKMS, a national organization that supports drives for registering potential donors, sent a representative from New York to Grand Forks to assist with the drive. According to Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, an international bone marrow donor organization, the odds of finding a donor who can match a patient are about as good as winning the lottery. This means that every donor who registers improves the odds of someone in need of finding a compatible donor. Donors who are compatible with patients may help fight leukemia and other life threatening diseases. For Dr. Sage's friend, the chance of winning the lottery never came. "Sadly, I got word of Hendrix' passing during our drive event yesterday. His life could not be saved, but maybe one of our students or faculty who registered at our drive yesterday will save the life of someone else's child."
Registration requires only a q-tip swab on the inside of the cheek. The UND drive added 317 people to the national registry. Dr. Sage noted that although social media helped with some of the turnout, word of mouth by participants and volunteers was key. "Although we got a batch of people to the drive through media (Facebook, flyers) a great deal of people came because their friends did. People texted, called, and sent Facebook links to get their friends to come over. It was really encouraging to see them use their social networks to make change." Dr. Sage mentioned that many of the individuals who volunteered for the program had a relative who was currently battling cancer, or who had passed away due to the disease.
Dr. Sage noted that Social Workers have a great deal of involvement with individuals who are diagnosed with cancer. A diagnosis can alter the lives of all family members, and social workers step in to help normalize feelings related to the diagnosis, manage educational needs, medication regiments, provide access to resources, and more.
"If any departments or centers would like us to come over for a few hours and get people registered in the next several weeks, they can contact me. If people want to register on their own, they can go to getswabbed.org and have a kit mailed to them."
Braz, David, "DKMS Bone Marrow Drive" (2013). UND News Archive. 463.