Donors needed for marrow drive
May 16, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 16, 2013) -- When it comes to selfless service, Soldiers are usually among the first to step up, but Fort Rucker hopes more than just Soldiers step up to donate to a cause that could save lives.
The 110th Aviation Brigade will host a post-wide bone marrow drive May 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the post theater, and anyone who is willing and able is encouraged to donate, said CW3 Jesse Martin, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment.
"All people will have to do is walk in, fill out a quick Privacy Act and general information sheet, followed by four cotton-tipped swabs in the mouth, and that's it," he said. "It takes about five to 10 minutes, and its quick and painless."
After an individual donates, the swabs are sent to Washington, D.C., and put into the national Bone Marrow Registry to determine whether they are a match.
The drive has been ongoing since May 13, and people can visit Lyster Army Health Clinic at any time during the week to donate, but the drive on May 17 is meant to accommodate masses of people rather than just a few at a time, said Martin.
Bone marrow transplants are meant to treat various life-threatening blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma, or other diseases, and Martin said the reason for the drive is to bring awareness to the installation and let people know that there are members of the Army Family that suffer from these diseases.
"We have [an identified need within the community], and that's what initially led us to do the research," he said, adding that if the drive can help save any life then it's worth having.
After a recent safety brief at the Seneff Building., Martin asked Soldiers of his battalion to donate afterward, and among those that donated were Lt. Col. Bevin K. Scherot, 1st Bn., 14th Avn. Regt. commander, who said for him, the decision to donate was an easy one.
"It's all about taking care of your own," he said. "When someone is sick in your community, do you stand by and just let them suffer, or do you actually step forward and do something about it?"
Seven years ago, Martin also provided a sample to be put into the registry while he attended flight school on the installation. At the time, there was another individual on the installation who suffered from a life-threatening disease.
Fort Rucker held a bone marrow drive during which Martin participated, and he said he found out later that a match was found for the individual and her life was saved -- a prime example that the program works.
"What a powerful thing that we can do if we can make a life-saving change to someone in need," said Scherot. "Seven years ago there was a life saved at Fort Rucker and that is so powerful. So why not try again? We took this project on with the full intent to do just that."
Odds of finding a match for anyone is very slim, said Martin, and that's why it's important for every possible person to donate.
"One of out 25,000 Caucasians are found to be a match, and one in 1 million of any minority are found to be matches, so the numbers are pretty against us," he said, adding that if a person is found to be a match, he or she isn't obligated to donate and there are no repercussions to not donating.
If a person does wish to donate, however, they will be flown to Washington, D.C., -- at no cost to the unit or themselves -- for the procedure at Georgetown University where additional testing will be conducted to confirm the match, said Martin.
"If you can save someone's life, then why not?" said Scherot. "It's a little act of kindness that has an enormous result."