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Andersen holds bone marrow registry drive Oct. 6

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --  Members of Team Andersen have the opportunity to sign up for a national bone marrow registry through unit-hosted drives across base and at the base exchange Oct. 6.

Group and squadron-level points of contact are setting up stations in various workplaces around Andersen. Each station has swabs that collect saliva from potential donors and materials for documentation and mailing to the national registry. No actual marrow is collected during the drive, according to program officials.

"This is a great opportunity to help save lives," said Tech. Sgt. Emmanuel Rona, 36th Medical Support Squadron Laboratory Services NCO in charge and 36th Wing lead for the drive. "Each year, more than 12,000 people are diagnosed with diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma that require an infusion of stem cells. While some individuals are able to find an appropriate match within their family, more than 70 percent of patients will require an unrelated donor."

According to www.bethematch.org, the national bone marrow registry program that teams with the Department of Defense's Salute to Life program, the registry matches donors with patients who require replacing unhealthy bone marrow with healthy bone marrow that can be used to treat patients with blood cancers like leukemia, diseases resulting in marrow failure or other immune system or genetic diseases.

Rona emphasizes that potential donors should not worry about the collection process.

"There are no needles involved in the collection and registration," he said. "We are just registering possible donors and collecting cheek swab specimens."
U.S. military members, including Reserve and Guard, family members, base civilian employees, and retirees between the ages of 18-60 can donate. Donors need to be in good health and cannot participate if they have HIV, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, Hepatitis B or C, kidney or liver disease or bleeding disorders.

The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, otherwise known as "Salute to Life," works exclusively with DOD members to facilitate marrow and stem cell donations, according to the organization's website www.salutetolife.org. Only one out of 540 registry members actually donate to a patient but just by being available, donors can increase the odds of saving a life.
For more information, visit www.salutetolife.org or call 366-6580.