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Rogersville event aims to draw potential bone marrow donors

May 14th, 2013 12:32 am by Jeff Bobo

Rogersville event aims to draw potential bone marrow donors

Susan Briggs

ROGERSVILLE — Friends and family of Susan Briggs and the Cooperative Appalachian Marrow Program (CAMP) will hold a marrow donor recruitment drive at Price Public Community Center in Rogersville the afternoon of May 24.

According to a press release, last fall Briggs was diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, and she needs a marrow transplant to treat and perhaps cure her disease.

Briggs is one of thousands of patients who need to find a suitable donor in the Be The Match Registry. 

The May 24 drive, which takes place 3:30-8 p.m. will hopefully benefit Briggs, but another goal is to increase the database of potential donors.

Event organizers note that anyone might be someone’s cure.

Drive organizer and Briggs’s niece Julia Briggs wants to help Susan as well as the thousands of patients in need of donors to give them another chance at life. 

“When someone you know and love has a devastating disease, organizing and holding a recruitment drive is one way we can help Susan as well as all patients who need a donor,” Julia Briggs said.

Each year, an estimated 12,000 persons in the U.S. are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and aplastic anemia. Their best or only hope of a cure is a transplant from an unrelated donor or cord blood unit. 

In a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant, the diseased bone marrow of a patient is replaced with healthy marrow which contains the important small immature cells called blood stem cells. 

CAMP Coordinator Linda Hilton said that in order for a transplant to be successful, the genetic human leukocyte antigen (HLA) or “tissue type” of the patient must match the tissue type of the donor. 

“The unique characteristics or traits of an individual’s marrow are inherited, in the same way as hair and eye color are inherited,” Hilton said. “A patient’s most likely match may be another family member, usually a sibling,” Hilton said. 

About 70 percent of those in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family.

For thousands of people who do not have a genetically matched relative, the need is critical to find an unrelated donor. 

The Be The Match Registry, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), maintains a database of volunteers who have agreed to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells if ever matched with a patient in need of a transplant.

In order to join the registry as a potential donor, volunteers must be between the ages of 18 and 44 and in good general health. 

After completing a registration, consent form and health questionnaire, the volunteer uses a cotton-tip swab to give a sample of check cells. From the sample of cheek cells, a volunteer’s genetic “tissue type” is obtained. 

This “type” is entered into the Be The Match Registry and is available for patients around the world as they search for a match. No actual bone marrow or blood stem cells are taken from a volunteer during the donor recruitment drive.

For additional information, contact Linda Hilton, Donor Center Coordinator, CAMP at 423-302-3679 or 1-866-680-0137.


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