Plymouth, N.H. – Approximately every four minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer and an estimated total of 150,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with some type of blood cancer in 2013. Plymouth State University’s Student Nursing Association, in partnership with DKMS, a global non-profit organization, teamed up September 23 to enlist bone marrow donor volunteers on the PSU campus and the Plymouth Town Green to help fight these diseases. PSU Nursing Assistant Professor Sandra Gamble said more than 600 students and community residents volunteered to be bone marrow donors.
“It’s a great way to get the whole community involved in potentially saving somebody’s life, in terms of a community service project, you can’t beat something like this,” Gamble said.
Bone marrow is the soft, fatty tissue inside your bones. Stem cells are immature cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all of your blood cells. When someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, one of their best hopes for survival is receiving a transplant of healthy bone marrow cells. So, by connecting potential donors with those who are suffering from life threatening blood disorders is a critical mission. The testing consists of getting your cheek swabbed with a cotton swab; the swabs are then sent to a lab where they are genetically typed and if they are matched with someone who is dying of a blood-borne cancer, they could end up donating bone marrow which would then be transplanted into the sick person and hopefully save their life. PSU first-year student Jason Phillips of Somersworth, N.H. said he was happy to volunteer.
“Why not? I enjoy helping people out and if I’m a match, I could help save someone’s life.”
There is less than a one percent chance of matching, but every year, lives are saved when a match and successful transplant occurs. Currently there are hundreds of thousands of blood cancer survivors in the U.S. More than a dozen Plymouth State nursing students and faculty participated in the bone marrow donor drive.