BGSU hosts the Be the Match bone marrow registry unit

BGSU hosts the Be the Match bone marrow registry unit

In an effort to help people living with rare diseases obtain life-saving bone marrow and stem cell transplants, Bowling Green State University will host a Be the Match registration drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday in Perry FieldHouse.

The campaign is part of the university’s Well-O-Ween health and wellness events and supports the National Marrow Donor program.

To participate, people ages 18 to 40 simply need to show up and get a cheek swab. From there, the swab is tested to see if the person is a bone marrow or stem cell match for someone battling a rare disease.

For a BGSU staff member and alumna, the mission behind Be the Match is intensely personal.

Danielle Burkin ’94 gave blood stem cells to her daughter, Hope, who was living with the effects of Fanconi anemia, an inherited DNA repair disease that can lead to bone marrow failure. Hope touched thousands of lives during her 17 years. Burkin wants Hope’s memory to continue to reach many more people and urges her fellow Falcons to see if they can be the match.

“After Hope passed away, her classmates at Perrysburg High School decided to hold a Be the Match registration drive in honor of her birthday, right before they graduated,” Burkin said. “That’s when our involvement with Be the Match began.”

That first record in Hope’s memory was in 2018 and was repeated the following year before the pandemic interrupted. After restrictions were lifted, Burkin and her husband, Donny, considered continuing the Be the Match effort at her church, but realized there was an even better place with the potential to find many more matches. : BGSU.

“I was working here at BGSU when Hope passed away, so my colleagues and friends know a lot about her. I’m not ashamed to talk about her because that’s part of my grieving process,” said Burkin, who has been with BGSU’s English department for seven years and serves as administrative secretary.

“I talk a lot about the bone marrow donation process because I think it’s very important that people here know that this is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a patient and their entire family.”

Burkin said having the event at BGSU is very important as the university environment provides a higher concentration of potential donors.

“Be the Match says that college campuses are where they’re really finding the most success because there’s an age limit on who can sign up to potentially donate,” Burkin said.

College settings also often give Be the Match a more diverse population to find potential donors, he said.

Burkin, who is part of the executive team of the BGSU Classified Personnel Council, reached out to BGSU President Rodney Rogers and BGSU Chief Health Officer Ben Batey to see how Be the Match could fit into the mission of the university to be a public university for the public good.

“It really made sense to combine it with the Well-O-Ween event because we can connect with students who are already there getting their flu and COVID shots, and the Perry Field House location and parking help us connect with members. of the community as good,” Burkin said.

Batey said the registration unit aligns with BGSU’s values.

“BGSU is excited to be able to coordinate and host a Be the Match registration drive on campus. As a public university for the public good, this is a fantastic way for our faculty, staff and students to exemplify our community of care by potentially being there to save the life of someone in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant,” said Batey.

Be the Match at BGSU aims to educate people about the life-changing results, from a simple cheek smear, for patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases, as well as demystify what it takes to donate bone marrow and blood stem. cells.

“Being a bone marrow donor can have a big impact because of so little commitment on the part of the donor. Honestly, donating stem cells from bone marrow or blood is just one of the easiest ways to make a difference — you’re not going to get cut up, you’re not going to have a long-term recovery,” Burkin said. “The next day you might have some bruises where you were pricked, just like any other time you get blood drawn, but that’s about it. You might do this more than once in your life, especially if you have a really weird type of match.”

Participants will answer questions about medical history and Be the Match will determine if they are eligible for registration. They will then have a swab taken from the inside of their cheek and a test will determine their human leukocyte antigen type to see if they match patients who need bone marrow or blood stem cell transplants.

“Once you’re on the registry, if Be the Match determines you’d be a great potential donor, they’ll contact you for next steps,” Burkin said.

He also said potential donors could be on the registry and never be called, and if donors are called and it’s not the right time in their life to donate, that’s okay too.

Burkin said getting samples from 50 people would be considered a success, but he is confident the event will see many more participants, especially with increased interest from Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which has Be the Match as the fraternity’s national philanthropic effort. .

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