‘Be The Match’ event raises awareness of bone marrow diseases

Robert Grant

More than 30,000 people are currently diagnosed with life-threatening diseases for which a bone marrow transplant may offer a cure. Fifty-six members of the Quinnipiac community attempted to decrease that number by participating in Kappa Alpha Theta’s second “Be The Match” event.

On Thursday, April 19, students had the opportunity to get a cheek swab and enter the bone marrow registry. The event was co-sponsored by the Student Programming Board and the women’s ice hockey team.

“We didn’t expect the overwhelming response,” said Kayla Cristoferi, a sister of Kappa Alpha Theta and the event’s coordinator. “It was nice to have all of the support.”

More than 150 people registered in last year’s bone marrow drive, run by junior Kappa Alpha Theta sister Chelsea Fritzson. Cristoferi says Fritzson inspired her to share her own story.

Cristoferi’s sister, Jennifer, passed away at 9 years old due to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The disease occurs when abnormal white bloods cells begin to grow in the bone marrow, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. The bone marrow loses its healthy blood cells which then weakens the immune system. Cristoferi was born after her sister passed away.

“I never got to meet my sister,” Cristoferi said. “It’s a weird feeling. You know your siblings inside and out, but I never got that.”

Cristoferi held the event and entered the registry in honor of her sister.

“That little bit of pain is nothing compared to what the person you’re helping is going through,” Cristoferi said. “It’s a small sacrifice for someone’s life.”

The cheek swabs were put on file waiting for a match. If there is a match, the registry contacts the potential donor to see if they will donate. The procedure is painless as the patient is given anesthesia; however, slight discomfort and side effects vary from person to person according to the National Marrow Donor Program.

“This is a cause that we care about,” Kristin Cagney, SPB’s traditions and community chair, said. “Something like this affects more people than you know.”