College of DuPage and Be The Match Heroes Drive

Be The Match Mission

College of DuPage partnered up with Be The Match in hopes of registering as many people as possible to be potential bone marrow donors.

Prospective donors signed up at the college’s Health and Science Center for the COD Heroes Drive. Biology Professor, and Event Organizer Julie Gibbs, says the registry holds a special place in her heart.

“You can see my button here, I actually had a bone marrow transplant 19 years ago at Loyola, and my brother was my donor,” said Gibbs. “So fortunately for me I had a family member who matched for me, and saved my life.”

According to Gibbs, 70% of people who are diagnosed with a blood related cancer don’t have family members as a match.

So people like Jim Waters rely on the kindness of anonymous donors.

“They couldn’t find an unrelated match donor, but they were able to find an umbilical cord cells in England. From a little British baby which was a match for me,” said Waters.

How Can People Donate Bone Marrow

There are two methods of donating: taking bone marrow from the pelvis in a surgical setting, or a more common non-surgical procedure

“The prospect of being a donor can seem intimidating to people, but I want people to understand that most of the time now, people who are donors actually take a drug that stimulates cell division in their bone marrow,” said Gibbs. “So, stem cells spill out onto their blood. So, really, it’s like donating blood.”

It’s important to have a diversified donor list, as those who are in need of bone marrow have a better chance of getting a match with someone of the same ethnicity.

Those who signed up will be mailed a packet with a cheek swab kit, so they can send in a DNA sample to formally enter the registry.

If you’d like to register as a donor, go to Be The Match website.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.

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