UT fraternity registers bone marrow donors to help young leukemia patient

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Marinda Scrushy, a nutrition sophomore, swabs the inside of her cheek for the bone marrow drive hosted by the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house on Saturday afternoon. The event was held in collaboration with the DKMS Americas Bone Marrow Donor Center in honor of the seven year-old leukemia patient Zach Guillot.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Students gathered at the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house to test their eligibility for registering as bone marrow donors to help those suffering from leukemia.

The bone marrow drive this Saturday was held by the DKMS Americas Bone Marrow Donor Center in honor of Zach Guillot, a seven year-old acute myeloid leukemia patient in Dallas. The Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity sponsored the event, where members volunteered to help potential bone marrow donors sign up on the national registry. The six-hour event managed to register 203 people as potential donors.

Amy Roseman, donor recruiter for DKMS Americas for Texas, said college campuses are becoming popular places to have these drives.

“We’re targeting younger donors because they’re usually healthier,” Roseman said. “This is the first time we’ve done a drive here, but there are thousands out there that need [bone marrow] matches.”

The registration process involves first establishing eligibility to donate. Eligible donors must be between 18 and 55 years of age, weigh more than 110 pounds and be in overall good health. After establishing eligibility, potential donors are given information about what a bone marrow donation entails to be sure they will follow through with the donation if a match is found.

“You’re basically expected to [donate] if you’re a match,” visual arts studies freshman Paige Atkinson said.

Donors have the inside of their cheek swabbed in order to collect a DNA sample to be tested for matches.

Jeffrey Stulmaker, Sigma Alpha Mu member and geosystems engineering and hydrogeology sophomore, organized the drive and said students from a diverse group of UT organizations participated in the event.

“After hearing a couple of stories, I just knew I wanted to get involved,” Stulmaker said. “We’re just trying to get as many organizations involved as possible.”

Students had a variety of reasons for attending the drive, such as philanthropy and community service fulfillments, but many felt a moral obligation to register as donors, said nursing junior Michael Tran.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Tran said. “I’d be very nervous if I found out I was a match, but it’s for a great cause.”

For more information on how to host a bone marrow donor drive please visit www.getswabbed.org

Printed on Monday, February 6, 2012 as: Fraternity hosts marrow drive