WFU bone marrow drive registers 308 potential donors

A bone marrow drive held April 26 at Wake Forest University resulted in 308 people donating a little time and a little blood to give leukemia victims a shot at a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant.

The Amanda Edwards Bone Marrow Drive raised $17,300 in donations to register 308 people in the National Bone Marrow Registry (NBMR). Donations were raised to offset the $75 cost of screening each volunteer, typing their blood and listing them in the national registry.

The drive was organized to honor Edwards, a Wake Forest senior who lost the battle against leukemia Sept. 29, 1997, while awaiting a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant.

The goal of the drive was to increase the number of potential bone marrow donors in the national registry by at least 100, with as many minorities registered as possible. Minorities are especially critical because patients and donors must have matching tissue types and these matches are found most often between people of the same ethnic group.

“Our original goal was to type 100 non-minorities and as many minorities as we could, with hopes for around 30 if we could swing it,” said organizer Isabel Newton. “Instead, we more than tripled our goal, typing a total of 308 people, 76 of whom were minorities.”

Volunteers donated two vials of blood, which was then typed and screened for six immune markers and put into the NBMR database. The markers help identify potential donors with marrow that resembles the patient’s own. Every year, thousands are stricken with leukemia and other blood-related diseases. Bone marrow transplants offer the prospect of a cure to those people.

“What we have done will continue to benefit people in need of marrow transplants tomorrow and the day after and even as we sleep,” said Newton. “The turnout for the drive was beyond all my hopes and expectations.”

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