For people with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure does exist – bone marrow donation.
Local residents are invited to take part in fighting these diseases with a “Swab-a-thon” sponsored by Be The Match – a national marrow donor program, along with local partners Marietta Memorial Hospital, Pioneer Chevrolet-Cadillac, Peoples Bank, the Parkersburg News & Sentinel, and WMOA.
The swab-a-thon is seeking potential donors, aged 18 to 44, with no personal history of cancer.
The Belpre Strecker Cancer Center’s Cortney Beymer says participants register by filling out a two page informational sheet. “Next we swab the inside of your cheek four times, to be sure we get the DNA we need,” explains Beymer.
“You’re on the national registry until age 61 and the likeliness you will ever get called is one in a million – that means, when you do get called and are asked to give bone marrow, it’s very important you follow through, because you are that person’s only hope,” adds Beymer.
She notes that a healthy body constantly replenishes bone marrow, so donating doesn’t weaken or hurt the donor. “There’s over 76 diseases a person can donate bone barrow for. Eighty percent of the time it can be taken through stem cells, which is drawn through the arm similar to blood donation,”
The other 20 percent of the time bone marrow is taken through a surgical procedure to the hip, with the donor sedated or put under general anesthesia. “You may get one or two days of flu-like symptoms – a small sacrifice because you just saved someone’s life,” says Beymer.
She says the local need for donors is great. “Just at the Strecker Cancer Center we have several patients waiting to find a match – we also have many who had successful matches and living a happy, healthy life.”
The swab-a-thon is at several locations this Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration sites include: the Marietta Pioneer Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership at 1415 Pike Street, Peoples Bank at Second and Putnam streets, and MMH’s Belpre campus on Farson Street.
For more information about the event, contact Cortney Beymer at 740.401.0257.