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Organization promotes bone marrow donation

Assistant News Editor

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 15:02

For people like Rachel Robinson, social sciences sophomore, health is a daily battle.

Robinson has multiple health conditions that make it difficult to do daily activities.She said that because of her health, it can be difficult to relate to people on campus.

A new organization on Loyola’s campus aims to bridge that gap while making a difference in patient’s lives.

Be The Match gives students the opportunity to help those living with certain illnesses that could benefit from bone marrow donations.

The newly-chartered student organization is dedicated to registering people for The National Bone Marrow Registry Program and raising awareness about marrow donation.

Loyola’s Student Government Association chartered the organization at its weekly Senate meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Robinson is the president of Be The Match on campus and is passionate about the cause.

“We want to help register students and local people in the community for the registry, raise funds and spread hope for patients waiting for a match,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that what motivated her to start the organization on campus is that she has interacted with many individuals, like her friend Andre Boothe, who have benefitted from a bone marrow transplant.

“My best friend was diagnosed with neuroblastoma as a young boy, and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that a bone marrow transplant saved Boothe’s life.

“Now he is also a double lung transplant survivor. Without the initial bone marrow transplant, he would have never had the chance to receive his lungs, and he would literally not be here today,” Robinson said.

Robinson deals with health conditions of her own.

Robinson has postural orthostatic tachycardis syndrome, a type of dysautonomia that affects the nervous system. She also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects the collagen genes. In addition, she has acidosis, a kidney condition, and a hypersensitive immune system, resulting in chronically active mononucleosis.

Robinson said that she had to take a semester off and has to modify some daily activities because of these illnesses.

“I take over 30 pills a day just to function, and I do an infusion once a week. It makes relating to people on campus hard,” Robinson said.

At the SGA meeting, Robinson said that she wanted Be The Match to be an organization that could show students that their donation and participation could provide hope for patients.

Robinson said that the donation process for students is simple. She said that the organization will set up a bone marrow registry, and any student who wishes to participate will be given a kit to use.

“We hand them a kit with five Q-Tips inside that have barcoded labels that have been assigned to their paperwork and identification. After that, the person registering simply takes each Q-Tip and swabs the inside of a cheek and places it back in the box,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that the organization then sends the kit to the national Be The Match headquarters, where the registrar’s sample is analyzed and matched up with a patient in need.

Robinson said that the donor also has the option to meet the patient.

Allison Cormier, senator-at-large for SGA and political science sophomore, said that she thinks the organization is great way for students passionate about this cause to become advocates.

“I think that’s great, because this is something that you don’t really hear a lot about,” Cormier said. “It’s something to raise awareness about, and I hope that students will be open to learning about it.”

Blake Corley, SGA executive vice president and mass communication junior, said that he was excited when he found out that the organization was looking to be chartered and feels that it will add something unique to the campus.

“To be able to have people on campus, especially a campus like Loyola, so dedicated to service and giving back to the community and giving back to people who are less fortunate and just generally in need, this organization really encompasses what it means to be a good Loyola student,” Corley said.

Corley said he hopes students will get something more out of being a part of Be The Match.

“I hope students will just look at this as another opportunity that they can get involved in something larger than themselves,” Corley said.

Corley said that he thinks the organization addresses something specific that is needed nationwide and is happy to have Be The Match on campus.

“This is just one more way and one more example that we’re all striving to be a part of that, and I’m so proud of Rachel and all the work that she has done, and I think this is going to be a very successful organization,” Corley said.

Robinson has high hopes for this endeavor. She said that she hopes to register at least 200 people for the National Bone Registry and raise $5,000 for the organization.

Alicia Serrano may be reached at amserran@loyno.edu 

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