The University Record, May 8, 1995
By Roxanne Romain
Cancer Center Public Relations
Each year, 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with fatal blood disorders such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia and Hodgkin's disease that can be cured with a bone marrow transplant. About 70 percent of these patients are looking for a donor--including more than 100 southeastern Michigan families. Experts say the odds of finding a match range from one in 100 to one in 1 million.
To improve these odds, the Comprehensive Cancer Center is holding a bone marrow drive 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday (May 11). Volunteer donors ages 18-55 will be asked to give a small sample of blood. The sample will then be typed for markers on the surface of white blood cells, and the results will be entered into the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. If a match is found, the participant will be asked to undergo further testing to complete the donation process.
"Bone marrow donations are important because they give patients an alternative for curative treatment. Often, transplant is the only available option," says Joseph P. Uberti, associate director of the Matched Unrelated Donor Program at the Cancer Center.
Program coordinators are urging the minority community to turn out for the drive. "The chances of finding a compatible match are dramatically improved within ethnic or racial groups because the tissue typing follows those lines," says Pat Steele, coordinator of the Matched Unrelated Donor Program.
The National Marrow Donor Program, a congressionally authorized network of centers, recently approved the U-M as a site for marrow collection and matched unrelated donor transplants. It is one of only two sites in Michigan to perform this sophisticated procedure.