A bone marrow donor registry drive on Texas A&M University’s campus brought more than 400 students to Duncan Dining Hall on Friday.
Participants swabbed their mouths to provide DNA samples and have their names added to Be the Match’s national bone marrow registry, which will help people in need of bone marrow connect with donors. The event was a collaborative effort between the A&M Corps of Cadets, the Kidz1stFund and Be the Match.
If anyone is matched, Community Engagement Representative for Be the Match Gulf Coast Benita Davis said they will need to have additional blood work done before donating.
A&M senior and Cadet 1st Lt. Mitchell Moore said his attendance on Friday was motivated in part by his interest in the medical field, since he is aiming to go to medical school.
“It’s minimum to no risk for you and not too much time,” Moore said about donating. “A small time on your part can make a huge difference and extend someone’s life by years.”
A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher and Candi Fisher started Kidz1stFund in 2011 to raise money for research about fanconi anemia, which is a rare blood disorder that their teenage son was diagnosed with. Fisher stopped by Friday’s event to speak with organizers and meet participants.
“It’s amazing how many great people there are in this world who are willing to help other people,” Fisher said. “These young men and women out here are actually saving lives.”
Davis said donating is not as painful as many people often think, especially since about 80% of donations can be made with the nonsurgical method of giving peripheral blood stem cells. The other 20% of donations involve marrow being removed from the hip while the donor is asleep under general anesthesia. According to the Be the Match website, about one in 430 people on the registry end up donating.
The cadets in attendance on Friday were a reflection of who they are as people and students, according to Amy Thompson, assistant commandant, marketing and communications for the Corps of Cadets.
“Selfless service is an A&M core value — it’s also a core value for the Corps of Cadets,” Thompson said. “The commandant really supports and encourages cadets to seek out opportunities to be leaders in selfless service. This is one of those opportunities where we can do that on a very large scale and make a huge impact.”
Corps Squadron 1 commander and A&M senior Jacob Svetz donated using stem cells about two years ago. He said he thinks everyone should sign up for the registry.
“The few pin pricks that you get … It’s such a miniscule amount of pain compared to what that family and individual are suffering through,” Svetz said. “To put yourself into a position to be able to help that — for me, it doesn’t make sense not to.”
Be the Match On Campus President and A&M senior Paige Boone said the organization hosts drives every month. The next one will be March 25 at A&M’s Rudder Plaza. Home swab kits are also an option. To get started, visit join.bethematch.org/Corps or text CORPS to 61474. Anyone ages 18 to 44 can participate.