FORT BLISS, Texas - Bone marrow donations can save lives!
This is why U.S. Army Spc. Christian Sutton has made it his personal mission to inspire soldiers both in his unit and across Fort Bliss to donate and be a key voice about the importance bone marrow donations can have on the lives of others.
Bone marrow is a soft tissue found inside the bone that contains stem cells. These cells eventually become white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Bone marrow have different important functions to keep the body healthy and strong. Healthy bone marrow cells are harmed in people who suffer with life-threatening diseases. A bone marrow transplant allows healthy cells from a donor to give those affected by illness the chance to grow healthy red and white blood cells and platelets.
Sutton has seen first-hand how bone marrow transplants can have a significant impact saving a life. He has witnessed his family members, as well as other soldiers, battle cancer and other diseases that necessitate a bone marrow transplant in order for them to survive.
Sutton is therefore committed to spreading the word about the need for donors and enticing people to sign up as his calling.
“I remember seeing my family struggle to find bone marrow matches for so long,” expressed Sutton “I try to remind my fellow soldiers during the events, that one [bone marrow] match can save a life.”
Sutton praised his command team from the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team for offering him support and resources in organizing and hosting several bone marrow drives within the 1st Armored Division and across Fort Bliss.
To date, Sutton has attended over 120 meetings with various company commanders all the up to brigade command sergeants major across the 1st Armored Division in hopes of making drives more widespread on Fort Bliss.
Sutton said the support from his leadership and his advocacy has made a big difference to spread awareness about this important cause.
“I had a lot of support,” said Sutton. “People see the opportunity to have an impact on someone else’s life and they want to reach out and help. It’s been really motivating!”
Sutton's hopes his efforts go beyond Fort Bliss as he hopes to work with community leaders in El Paso to work with churches, civic associations, and other organizations to encourage more people to donate. He also hopes to reach more diverse communities and motivate them to donate due to a lack of donations within those communities.
According to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), African Americans and Hispanics are ethnic groups that are underrepresented in bone marrow registries. Patients from those communities may find it more difficult to find a match as a result to save lives.
Since March 2022, Sutton has organized 33 bone marrow drives at Fort Bliss, signing up over 2,200 soldiers for the registry. Sutton has worked with both the NMDP and Salute to Life, a bone marrow donor organization primarily serving members of the Department of Defense.
“Sutton is a shining example of the kind of commitment and dedication it takes to make a difference,” remarked Chad Ballance, a senior recruiter with Salute to Life “By organizing and spreading the word about bone marrow donations, he is helping to save lives and make a real impact in his community.”
If you're interested in becoming a donor or learning more about the process, visit the NMDP website at https://bethematch.org/ or Salute to Life website at https://www.salutetolife.org/.
Your donation could be the one that saves a life.