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Gamma Phi Beta along with Love Your Melon brought The Icla Da Silva Foundation, a recruitment center for Be The Match, to the Mount Carmel Campus on Thursday April 26. The event gave students the opportunity to sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry.
The National Marrow Donor Program operated Be The Match Registry. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receive the marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant they need, when they need it, according to the Be The Match website.
Gamma Phi Beta charter member, Olivia Hilton, and Vice Captain for Quinnipiac’s Love Your Melon crew, Hayley Abbott, organized the event on Thursday.
Hilton and Abbott invited Community Engagement Representative at The Icla Da Silva Foundation, Natasha Mincy, to help students register for the national bone marrow registry.
The Icla Da Silva Foundation partnered with Gamma Phi Beta and Quinnipiac’s Love Your Melon to offer their services directly to students on campus.
“The overall goal to Be The Match is to find a bone marrow donor for every person suffering with leukemia or blood cancers that need a bone marrow donor,” Mincy said.
Currently, there are about 13.5 million people on the registry, according to Mincy. Hilton’s older brother had the opportunity of being a bone marrow donor via Be The Match.
“He actually donated and saved a man’s life when he was a senior in college,” Hilton said. “In February of this past year, he passed away, and this was a foundation that was really near and dear to his heart. Getting to work with my sorority sisters, Love Your Melon and Be The Match all at once to continue on my brother’s legacy is a huge deal for me. It’s kind of like my personal anecdote for it.”
There are health requirements to be matched as a donor. A donor must be between the ages of 18 and 61. Donors must be Hepatitis C and HIV negative, and also have not gone through any chemo or radiation, according to Mincy.
“We are really trying to make the registry a little more diverse,” Mincy said. “Right now it’s about 70 percent caucasian and 30 percent of every other nationality. (It is) only about seven or eight percent African American, and leukemia is not a white man’s disease. It is certainly important that we get as many people involved as we can. Asian, African, Hispanic, everyone needs to get on the registry so that we can help somebody to live a long, happy, healthy life.”
Even with 13.5 million people on the registry, only a small percentage of recipients actually receive a donor.
“It’s small (percentage of matches) because you have to have a pretty close match in your DNA,” Hilton said. “You have to be a full match in order to be able to participate in the donation.”
Once a donor signs up for the bone marrow registry, they remain on the list until the age of 61, according to the Be The Match website.
“You don’t have to reapply. Your DNA doesn’t change, so this is in there ‘till then,” Hilton said. “Once you get a potential match, they run some more tests just to see if you’re a full match, and if you’re a full match, then you have the opportunity to go through the donation process.”
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Donating bone marrow can be done via platelets or by extracting liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone via needle under anesthesia.
“It can happen a week from now, it can happen 15 years from now, but it’s really kind of awesome that way,” Hilton said.
The day continued with Quinnipiac’s Love Your Melon crew donating to the Ronald McDonald House, a non- profit organization that provides families with a home-away-from-home for their hospitalized children.
Quinnipiac’s Love Your Melon fed seven families and donated around 50 to 75 hats, according to Abbott.
Hilton would love to be able to bring Be The Match to Quinnipiac every semester in an effort to get more students signed up on the national bone marrow registry.
“I am graduating so I’m going to be going home, but I have sorority sisters here. I also have a wonderful community of people here,” Hilton said. “If this is a way that I can continue my brother’s legacy here at Quinnipiac and in various other places, then I would love to continue doing this.”