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With a Success Story in Tow, Rockhurst Prepares for a Second Bone Marrow DriveNovember 6, 2014
Almost two years ago, senior Dustin Schroeder was one of 475 Rockhurst University students who signed up for a little paperwork and a simple cheek swab to become part of a national bone marrow donor registry.
This summer, he’s the first participant in that drive to have become an actual bone marrow donor after finding out he was a match in March.
“They sent me an email and told me I was a match and as soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted to do it,” he said. “You don’t get many chances to do this, so I wanted to make sure that I did.”
For Schroeder, a physical therapy major from Omaha, Nebraska, there was never even a question about stepping up as a potential donor — he said he had been part of previous drives, and knew that becoming part of the registry was a small, but important, way to help.
How important? Joyce Jones, a donor recruitment coordinator for Delete Blood Cancer, said the chances of being a match is about one in 30,000, and the list of those in need of a donation is long.
“The need is huge,” she said. “The reason that it’s so important to continually look for new donors is because at any given time there are approximately 10,000 people looking for a match.”
The drive at Rockhurst was part of an ongoing effort at college campuses by John Murry, ’55, to organize drives and encourage people to join the Delete Blood Cancer bone marrow donation registry. He brought the idea to Rockhurst staff and the Student Senate in 2011. Murry’s four grandsons have all been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Without a bone marrow transfusion, they require monthly blood transfusions.
“I approached Rockhurst not just because I’m an alum but because I know of the goodness and generosity of Rockhurst students,” he wrote in an email. “And I was not disappointed. The drive went extremely well with 475 Rockhurst students registering as potential donors...a larger number than at any other of the dozen area colleges where I organized campus drives.”
That drive has resulted in at least 14 matches to date. Rockhurst Student Senate and Murray hope to repeat that success with another bone marrow drive scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10 in the Massman Gallery.
Contrary to what many people think, Schroeder said donating bone marrow was not difficult or painful, especially with what is now the most common method of collection, the peripheral blood stem cell donation. He said the process starts with blood tests and a physical, with injections following to stimulate the production of stem cells in the donor’s peripheral blood. Those stem cells are then collected in a short procedure in which blood is drawn and centrifuged to separate the component in it that contains the stem cells.
“I just sat there and watched TV the whole time,” Schroeder joked of the procedure.
He might not be able to meet his recipient face-to-face right away because of privacy concerns —although he will be allowed to write a letter —but Schroeder said he hopes to spread the word to others on the importance of both registering to be a donor and then following through, if possible, with collection.
“Actually, I convinced the kid that flew with me to join the registry,” he said. “I am a huge advocate for it. It’s so easy and you get to save someone’s life and you barely do anything.”