By Mr. Andrew R McIntyre (Jackson)May 10, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Wednesday at the Basic Training Museum, the Main Exchange and at Moncrief Army Community Hospital. Soldiers were on hand to answer questions and educate potential donors about the program.
Bone marrow is donated to people who are fighting cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, severe genetic illnesses like sickle cell anemia and other life-threatening diseases.
Anyone interested in becoming a donor must submit his or her information along with a swab of cheek cells or a blood sample to the National Marrow Donor Program database. Volunteers will then receive confirmation from the National Bone Marrow Center if the person qualifies as a donor. If the donor is a match to a patient, the program will arrange for the donor to travel to Washington for further processing.
Fort Jackson bone marrow drive coordinator, Sgt. 1st Class Marilyn Shaw, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, volunteered immediately after hearing about a local child in need of a bone marrow transplant. The young girl was suffering from a rare blood disease. Shaw said a bone marrow donor drive was started for the child, who successfully received her transplant at a later date.
Shaw's call to help was amplified when she was made aware of members of three families living on Fort Jackson who also needed transplants. Shaw answered the call and immediately volunteered to take responsibility to start a bone marrow drive on post.
"Organizing this marrow drive was my way of just giving back. If it was my child, husband, mother, sister or brother, I would pray that someone would help to answer my prayers," Shaw said.
Shaw explained that people who participate in the drive do not just get tested to be a match for one particular patient, but are placed in the national database for the possibility of matching multiple patients. If the person is a match, the bone marrow donation process is completely voluntary.
"I have received a great deal of help from my Soldiers in the unit and my husband. They are all helping me get this drive to work," Shaw said.