(COVINGTON, La.) — In honor of National Donor Day, the St. Paul’s HOSA chapter, led by sophomore Andrew Norlin, has launched a “Be The Match” campaign to donate bone marrow to those in need.
By answering a brief survey of about ten minutes, a donor around the ages of 18-44 can register for eligibility to donate. For those who are active military, the linked site will take the donor to a separate registration process through the Department of Defense.
The reason for restricting registry to the ages of 18-44 is because, according to Norlin, “These ages have the best available marrow.”
HOSA’s Be The Match drive will last for the rest of the month of February, and all of Louisiana’s HOSA chapters are competing for the amount of people registered.
Contrary to some portrayals, the donation process has recently been said to feel similar to the average blood test or donation.
“There are two ways to donate bone marrow,” Camile Chudzinski, a previous Be The Match donor, said.”One is through a process called PBSC, which is peripheral blood stem cell donation, referred to as apheresis. Then there is the marrow donation, which is done with needles through the pelvic bones. I did the marrow donation where they extracted the marrow from the bones.”
As for anxiety, unless a donor faints at the sight of blood, the process should be relatively palatable for him or her.
“I honestly had no anxiety about it at all,” Chudzinski said. “Maybe it’s because I’m a mom, or maybe it’s my strong belief and faith that God’s hands are in everything, but I was excited about it, at first, and not worried a bit.”
After the confidentiality agreement expires, the donor is able to find out who his or her contribution of marrow went to, forging potential friendships and giving the donor a hint at just how much their deed contributed to the recipient’s life.
“The donation remains anonymous for one year,” Chudzinski said. “And after one year, they can put us in contact with each other if we desire. My donor coordinator was named Sue Schiwetz, and she gave me an update in December that my recipient had responded well (engrafted) and had been released from the hospital.”
Students of the age of 18, as well as faculty and staff, are encouraged to register, and follow up with the registry if they are able to give. According to SPS science teacher and HOSA moderator, Ann Pfalzgraf, “There is a very slim chance that (one who registers) will ever be a match.”
See a visual example of the donation process through “The Journey of A Swab,” presented by BeTheMatch.org