A team of dedicated Hudson Valley volunteers have joined together at colleges, special events and gyms throughout Orange and Ulster County to support the efforts of the Gift of Life Marrow Registry. In the last few months the volunteers have been able to add hundreds of potential donors at swabbing drives at Mt. St. Mary College, SUNY New Paltz, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Safe Harbors on the Hudson, and Crunch Fitness, led by Sherrill and Stacey Lazarus of Newburgh.
Gift of Life is urgently seeking a matching blood stem cell or marrow donor for Dereck Boles, an African American 26-year-old father and businessman who is battling leukemia and is in urgent need of a lifesaving transplant. Dereck, a former University of Arizona defensive tackle, has a loving family, and is not only the father of a little girl, but he has a baby boy on the way. In addition to Dereck, Gift of Life is desperately seeking a donor for 14 year old Amare, 53 year old Ruth, and one year old Romi also suffering from leukemia.
They are all of African American or multi racial heritage.
Many blood cancer patients lose their lives because no matching stem cell or marrow donor is found in the worldwide registry, even though there are now more than 33 million registered donors from dozens of countries.
The numbers are shocking: 75% of Blacks, 75% of multi-racial individuals, 55% of Latinos and Hispanics, and 60% of Asian Americans do not have a perfectly matched donor in the worldwide registry. The reason matches are so difficult to find for these patients is simple: their genetic heritage is underrepresented in the registry, which means people sharing a similar lineage or ethnicity have not joined the registry in sufficient numbers.
Gift of Life, and this Hudson Valley team, is on a mission to change these numbers. Their goal is for every person to find their perfect donor when one is needed. But to get there, they need more people to step up, join the registry, and commit to help save someone’s life if called as a match.
Our “swabbing drive“ team has been active for over five years and is thrilled to have found twenty eight matches. To join the Gift of Life registry, donors simply swab the inside of their cheeks and complete a registration questionnaire. 18 to 35-year-olds who are in good health (the ideal demographic for successful transplants) were urged to join the registry.
They are actively searching for stem cell donors all of the time and they have many more drives scheduled in the Hudson Valley in the next few months. These include:
· Friday, October 21st 11AM – 3PM SUNY New Paltz Make A Difference Day Kickoff
· Saturday, October 22nd 11AM – 6PM Weeds Orchards & Winery 43 Mount Zion Road Marlboro
· Sunday, October 23rd 12noom – 5PM Weeds Orchards & Winery 43 Mount Zion Road Marlboro
· Wednesday, November 16th 9:30AM – 2:30PM – SUNY Orange Newburgh – Kaplan Hall – Grand lobby
Donating peripheral blood stem cells is a process similar to donating blood platelets. There is no cost to donate. Your personal information, including all medical information, is protected by Gift of Life and remains strictly confidential.
Since their founding in 1991, Gift of Life has registered over 400,000 donors and saved over 4000 lives.
Gift of Life relies on the generosity of partners to underwrite the $60 laboratory cost needed for tissue typing each test kit and add new donors to the registry. Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.
Those unable to attend a donor drive in person can request a swab kit to be delivered to their home by visiting www.giftoflife.org.
“If you’re healthy and of the right age, please consider joining the registry to help save Dereck or another patient battling blood cancer,” said Gift of Life volunteer Sherrill Lazarus. “Please also consider a donation to offset the costs associated with testing the swab kits.”