Bone Marrow – You Can Do It Too!

Bone Marrow Drive at Every University Campus and Every Desi Functions:

Our mission is to create awareness of the Bone Marrow Registry and register as many people as we can. Here are some tips if you are interested in this nationwide grass root movement.

It is really not that hard to organize a bone marrow drive at your campus or your community organizational event.

First thing you have to do is to convince the organizers that this is an important enough issue to address it. This really should not be hard to do. As a matter of fact few volunteers may choose to go to all the community organization committee meetings and ask for ten minutes of their time to appeal to them to organize a bone marrow drive.

Why?

1. There are more than 350 medical conditions for which the matching bone marrow is the only life saving remedy available.
2. Your best chance of finding a matching bone marrow is from people of your own kind. Caucasian is likely to find from a Caucasian and African American from another African American. Asian will likely to find from another Asian;
3. Even from the people of your own kind the odds of finding a matching bone marrow may be as low as one in one hundred thousands.

What does it involve?

The registration involves two simple steps. First you fill out a form. And, than you five drops of your blood to be tested. This is done by pricking the finger, just like a diabetic would do several times a day on his own. This is done by certified phlebotomists who are trained professionals using disposable needles.

Who Can Register?

Anyone between the ages of 18-60 in good general health can register. Once you are registered you are registered till you reach the age of 60. So an 18 year old is helping everyone who needs a matching bone marrow for 42 years!

Things you need to do:

Once the event has been identified it is a good idea to inform the venue owners that we are going to have a Bone Marrow Registration at the time of the event. It should not be a big problem but every once in a while there are some buildings where it might help to let them know in advance and if they have any concerns we can address them in timely manner.

Best way to inspire and educate large number of people is to give a simple speech about five minutes long. (I can help you with the speech or send you a CD). Ideal time for the speech is early on the program or if it is a religious program just before the Aarti or conclusion of the prayer. Try to avoid complex explanation of bone marrow. Bone Marrow Drive is more about the heart than science.

You may download the pamphlet from my website or I can design a special pamphlet according to the event and the audience.

You may download a power point presentation from my website but I have found that to be most effective the speech can be delivered without power point presentation.

A picture is worth a thousand words. I can sent you the pictures of someone who passed away while waiting for matching bone marrow or someone who is currently waiting to find a matching marrow. We also have few people who have either successfully donated or are alive today because of this procedure. If the drive is nearby one of this person we can invite them to be on the stage at the time of presentation.

To assure the availability of Bone Marrow Staff (collection of the blood sample can only be done by approved Bone Marrow Donor Centers) so it is a good idea to alert the possible date as soon as possible to the nearest center. Once more details are available we can update them with the progress. If you need assistance in getting the Bone Marrow Center you may contact me, I can arrange for alternate support facilities.

Basic Set up is simple.

You need to have two tables and 12 chairs. One table is used to collect the blood sample for the test and the other for filling out the paper work. Best place to have this table is where the traffic is likely to be.

How to maximize the response?

Even if this sounds like a simple thing for people to do. It was not uncommon for a three day convention of more than 2500 people to net 30 donors over 8 hours per day of bone marrow drive. To maximize the response it helps to have as many volunteers as possible who will get at least 10-15 people to register. Pre event flyers or presentation at the meeting or dance practice helps people getting motivated.

Some frequently asked questions:

1. What if our organization is very small?
That should not stop you from conducting a bone marrow drive. What you can do is talk to other minority groups and have 40 or more people who promise you to come and register. Once you have that many we can get the staff to set the drive on your campus and you may get some more people to sign up. Do not overlook the non-students on your campus!

2. Does this have to be an Asian drive?
The answer is NO. Basically there is minimal number of registered donors in all ethnic groups except for Caucasians. So not only should we recruit the Asian but any minority that would join the worthy cause.

3. What if one has changed the address or phone number since registration?
They need not register again. All they need to do is to go to the following link and fill out the form.
https://www.marrow-donor.org/CONTACT/ADDRESS/update_your_address.html

4. What if one is not sure if he/she is registered several years ago?
You may go to the following URL and fill out the form and they will let you know by email whether you are registered or not. But, suppose you are at a location where the drive is going on and you are not sure if you are registered or not, than simple thing to do is fill out the form and give a sample but inform the staff that you are not sure about your status.
https://www.marrow-donor.org/CONTACT/Prelim_Search_Request/index.html

5. How do I find out the Donor Center near me?
You may find the phone number of the donor center near you by going to the URL below. But if they are busy and are not able to help you, we should not cancel a drive because of the lack of staff. Please contact me and I will try to find alternate source of support.
http://www.marrow.org/HELP/Donate_Cord_Blood_Share_Life/How_to_Donate_Cord_Blood/CB_Participating_Hospitals/nmdp_cord_blood_hospitals.pl

6. How can I help you?
Help you with the logistics, finding the staff, getting the permission from the venue,
Help you with a pamphlet
Help you with the speech; I have CD available of some of my presentations.
Come personally to inspire and educate the group. (I have traveled from NY to CA for bone marrow drives over past 6 years.)
I would be glad to talk to all the volunteers via a speakerphone or we can chat on AOL and answer all the questions anyone might have.
Do anything to make your Bone Marrow Drive a successful one.

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