Cougars dedicated to bone marrow donations

Students belonging to a national bone marrow registry organization at UH have caught attention with their success.

Be the Match is a bone marrow registry of potential donors for people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. For many living with those diseases, a bone marrow transplant is the only lifesaving option, and more than 70 percent cannot find a donor match within their own families.

The organization is making it easier for college students to learn about the organization and how they can contribute to the cause. The UH chapter has registered more than 1,500 donors since its inception.

The organization accepts bone marrow donations, financial donations and blood cord donations.

The Be the Match chapter at UH was founded last fall to reach out to the diverse students on campus.

The Daily Cougar: When was the organization established at UH, with what goals and (thus far) successes?

Be the Match: The organization was officially started off in Fall 2013. The main purpose of starting a Be the Match at UH was that UH is such a diverse campus; it is a great place to get people on the registry. Our goal was to register as many students onto the registry as possible. So far, we have had over 1,500 students join the registry. Out of those, seven have come up as matches.

TDC: What is the process like for someone who would like to contribute, from registration to the final step?

BTM: Registration includes a quick cheek swab and filling out a form. If someone comes up as a match, they are asked to go in for further testing to make sure they are the best match for the patient. After determining if the donor is a perfect match, they will come in for a physical to make sure that they are healthy enough for donation.

After the physical, they will then be informed if they are going to donate one of two possible donations. There are two different methods of collection. One is the peripheral blood stem cell method, which is just like donating platelets, and the second one is the marrow donation. Marrow donation is an outpatient surgical procedure. You are given general anesthesia, so the donation is pain-free. The marrow harvest itself can take 30 to 45 minutes.

For collection, a needle is used to withdraw the marrow from the back of the pelvic bone — you are asleep and you don’t feel anything. You will go home the same day after collection, with a Band-Aid over the area where the marrow was withdrawn. The next day, get some rest — it will feel like a light bruise — and you will be back to your normal day-to-day activities in a few short days.

TDC: What is the impact of each contribution? Does one contributor help one person, or is there a larger effect?

BTM: Each person put on the registry could potentially be a match for any patient in need, known or unknown. The donor can donate multiple times, potentially saving many lives.

TDC: How else can people contribute to the cause without giving marrow? Do you accept donations or have fundraising events?

BTM: There are several ways one can contribute to the cause. You can donate to Be the Match on Campus—UH. This is helpful, because the cost for each person signed on to the registry is about $100. Also, anyone can also volunteer with and join the Be the Match on Campus to help register more people onto the registry and help save lives.

To donate, you can visit here or text “MATCH UH” to 50555.

TDC: Where can people go, or who can they contact to find out more information or register?

BTM: To get more information or to join the organization, you can email [email protected]. Students can join the registry during Be the Match drives around campus. Our next drive will take place in Fall 2014 at the Butler Plaza from September 9 to 11.

Students can also find us on

[email protected]

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