Thousands of people are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers every year, but a simple cheek swap could help save these lives.
Be The Match will be hosting a bone marrow registry and blood drive at California State University Northridge in Redwood Hall from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sept. 29.
The drive was originally hosted to help CSUN Kinesiology Professor and Faculty President Shane Frehlich. After his recent passing due to complications from acute myeloid leukemia, the drive will now be held in his honor.
This year’s drive will also benefit Cheryl McMillian, a staff member of the Office of Alumni Relations at CSUN who has been diagnosed with lymphoma.
“Although we started these drives to help our colleagues, these drives can benefit more than a specific person. Just last year we had three matches,” said Dino Vrongistinos, kinesiology department undergraduate coordinator at CSUN. “Everyone loved Professor Frehlich and wanted to help, but unfortunately he never found a match.”
Although all drives are beneficial, CSUN is ideal for potential donors.
“The survival rate for blood cancer is lowest in racial and ethnic minorities because there are fewer of them in the registry,” said Kristy Michaud, an associate professor of political science.”That’s why drives in CSUN and Los Angeles are so significant. As a result of their great diversity, they help dramatically increase the survival rate of minorities.”
Also, adults between the ages 18 and 44 are ideal donors as research shows that cells from younger donors have the greatest chances of providing a successful transplant. Registration is free for those younger than 45.
To register, potential donors have to fill out a form and simply swab their cheek for a tissue sample. Their sample will then be placed in a registry to match with patients in need. Volunteers will be listed on the registry until they are 61 years old unless they request to be removed.
According to the Be The Match website, only 1 in 540 members will be a match and continue the process to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to patients.
“We are possibly looking into making this into a biennial event because this drive touches the lives of so many people,” Vrongistinos said, “and we want to continue help spread awareness.”
For those who want to do more to help, volunteers are still needed to run the event.
“Students simply need to contact me to schedule their time,” said health science Professor Joo Kim. “We will appreciate all the volunteers.”
Anyone who wants to volunteer should contact Kim at email@example.com.
Anyone who is unable attend the drive but would still like to register can do so by going to https://join.bethematch.org/.
A public memorial service will be held for Frehlich at the CSUN Valley Performing Arts Center on Oct. 30 at 4 p.m.
A donation page has been set up for Frehlich’s children at https://www.gofundme.com/shanefrehlich.