NEWBURGH – Cancer is a random killer. It can strike any one of us at any time. A dedicated group of volunteers led by Gail Oliver of Newburgh, and Lorraine Wernow of Marlboro, are continuing to host a series of drives to register potential bone marrow and stem cell donors to benefit patients suffering from diseases like leukemia and lymphoma who are in need of transplants.
The Hispanic and African American populations of the United States face a tremendous challenge: leukemia and lymphoma rates for both men and women are higher than for other groups, and cancer is now the leading cause of death, even above heart disease. Many types of lymphoma, leukemia and other blood disorders can be treated or cured through bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplants. However, approximately 55% of Hispanic/Latino patients and 75% of African American patients are unable to find a matching bone marrow or stem cell donor. There simply are not enough people in these groups – who are registered in the marrow registries – to provide matches for all patients.
Upcoming drives, coordinated by the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, will be held on:
Tuesday, August 28th at 4 pm at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh (Outside of Hudson Hall); Saturday, September 1st from noon to five at the Newburgh Puerto Rican Festival in the People’s Waterfront Trail Park in Newburgh; Saturday, September 15th at the Annual Plattekill Day event from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at Thomas Felten Park in Modena.
“The genetic factors used to match donors and recipients are inherited, like hair and eye color, so matches are usually found with someone of the same ethnicity. We invite those between 18 and 45 years old to volunteer and help us find more lifesaving donors,” said Gift of Life Founder and CEO Jay Feinberg. “ It is important that people of Hispanic and African American ancestry join the registry to change the odds of finding a match.”
Everyone is encouraged to participate in the drive. It’s fast and painless. If a person is between the ages of 17 and 45 and in general good health, they are eligible to be screened and join the worldwide registry for patients in need. A simple swab from the inside of ones cheek is all it takes to determine if you are a match. Tissue type is inherited, but only 30% of people who need transplants can find a match within their family, so they must look in the registries to have that second chance at life. Last summer, the Newburgh Gift of Life delegation was able to find two matches at the Monticello Latino Festival and potentially saved two lives. This year, the dedicated group of volunteers hopes to find even more matches, and give those who are desperately ill the gift of life.
For more information about Gift of Life and saving lives through bone marrow or stem cell donation, one can visit www.giftoflife.org or call 1-800-9MARROW.