Becoming a match
After one of its brothers passed away from leukemia more than 10 years ago, a fraternity continues to host on-campus drives to encourage students to join a bone marrow registry to save a life.
Lambda Phi Epsilon organized one of the largest bone marrow drives in the history of the National Marrow Donor Program and Asian American Donor Program after brother Evan Chen of Stanford University was diagnosed with leukemia. More than 2,000 people were typed, and although a match was found, Chen passed away in 1996.
For its philanthropy event, the fraternity held its second bone marrow drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at the New University Center. It has raised $100 in T-shirt sales, and about 70 students have registered within the two days.
Hotel and restaurant management sophomore James Lee is the service chair for LFE.
“After Evan passed, we adopted this bone marrow drive as our national philanthropy event,” Lee said. “We want to raise awareness for minorities to become a part of the registry, because it’s really hard to find a match for them. We want to save as many lives as possible.”
According to the Be The Match Registry, 67 percent of the 10.5 million registered donors are Caucasian, while about 29.2 percent of the registry are spread across six categories of minorities.
Students have the opportunity to register at two more bone marrow drives from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Butler Plaza in front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library.
LFE is also organizing the “Pie-A-Lambda” event during their drives, where anyone can pie a member for $1. All proceeds from these drives go directly to Be The Match.
Community Engagement Representative from the Be The Match Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program Rachael Neihart has worked with LFE in the bone marrow drives.
“Someone registered at one of the Lambda events for the Save Nina drive in the summer and was matched,” Neihart said. “He donated and saved someone’s life.”
About 70 percent of patients who need a transplant do not have a matching donor within their family. The Be The Match Registry is able to meet only half of the 12,000 patients per year who could be cured through a transplant from someone outside their families.
Neihart hopes to have more than 200 people join the registry by the end of this week.
“I was diagnosed with MDS, a form of leukemia, in August 2006,” Neihart said. “I found a match through Be The Match Registry, I survived and I’ve been a part of this program hoping to get students to join the registry.”
The application process takes less than five minutes, and after signing forms, participants are asked to swab their cheeks.
Donors are contacted only after a match is found.
Be The Match offers two painless ways to donate marrow — peripheral blood stem cell donation and marrow donation.
About 30 volunteers joined the registry in LFE’s drive Tuesday.
“I took the time out to sign up because I could potentially save someone’s life,” said liberal studies freshman Helen Jenkins.
According to the Be The Match Registry guidelines, participants are needed between 18 and 40, but anyone can donate between ages 18 and 60.
“I wanted to become a donor because I’ll do anything to help anyone out,” said technology freshman Brittney Buford.
Be The Match is also arranging a bone marrow drive for Frontier Fiesta in March.
For more information or to register online, visit http://join.bethematch.org/GCMDP.