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Opinion

Be the Match drive helps save lives

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November 7, 2013

Going through life many people compile a bucket list. What is on each list varies from person to person, but many people would like to have the opportunity to save someone’s life.

For those people that wish to save lives, there was a chance to do so on campus. On Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, at the University Center Ballroom, UW-River Falls hosted a Be The Match blood drive.

Be The Match is an organization that helps people who have life-threatening blood cancers find a donor match in hopes of getting a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. A person gets diagnosed with blood cancer every four minutes, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Most patients do not have a matching donor in their family and rely heavily on Be The Match to find the match that they need.

Since coming into existence in 1987, Be The Match has been able to facilitate more than 55,000 marrow and cord blood transplants for people who do not have matching donors within their family. They are such a wide spread organization that they have over 10.5 million possible marrow donors and almost 185,000 cord blood units. Be the Match is also a special organization because they provide help internationally, with almost 30 percent of the total number of memberships including citizens of other countries.

Getting registered at UWRF was not difficult. Anyone can be a part of Be The Match, as long as they meet age and health guidelines and are willing to donate to any patient in need. Upon arrival, volunteers were asked to complete a confidential registration and consent form and take a painless cheek swab. On average, the total process takes less than 15 minutes.

When hearing that a cheek swab was what determined if a person could possibly be a donor or not, one might start to think about crime shows. We have all seen episodes were a cheek swab was taken for forensic investigators to determine whether or not someone committed a crime. This is because the cheek swab is a DNA sample and allows for analysis and matching.

By taking a cheek swab, the scientists at Be The Match are able to determine whether or not one can be a match for a person in need. While it might sound simple enough, it is a complex process. Being able to match tissue types is far more difficult than matching blood types.

Even students who were unable to attend the event still had a chance to join online via BeTheMatch.org. By becoming a member online a person can create a page and share their personal story to help spread the message of why they are choosing to be a donor.

Students, faculty and community members were also informed that there were other ways to help. For example, a person can make financial contributions. Every $100 raised helps add a new possible marrow donor to Be The Match registry. A person can also donate cord blood, volunteer or pass along the message to other people.

The on campus event was a great opportunity for the community to come together for a great cause. Not only were the volunteers taking the step to become a donor, but also they were taking a step to potentially save someone’s life. After all, there is no better feeling than taking a step to cross something off your bucket list and doing a good deed that could potentially save a life.

Kate Vruwink is from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. She loves playing and watching sports and plans on majoring in journalism with an ultimate goal to work for ESPN some day.