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Olympic Gold Medalist Teams With Students in Bone Marrow Registration Drive

Donor registration drive

Every three minutes an American is diagnosed with a malignancy that attacks the blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system. Of those who need a donor marrow transplant, only 30 percent find a compatible donor in their family. The remaining 70 percent, or 12,000, per year must rely on donors who are strangers.

Earl Young, an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 in the 4-by-400-meter relay, received a bone marrow transplant from a stranger located in Germany several years ago and now devotes his considerable energy to recruiting donors onto the national registry to help others in need to find their matching marrow donors.

Young has teamed with DKMS and three organizations at the Mount—the Institute for Leadership, Ethics, Achievement and Development (iLEAD), the Center for Student Engagement and Success and the Department of Athletics—to hold a bone marrow registration drive on September 6 and 7. College students are ideal candidates for the donor registry because they have decades of eligibility as donors.

On September 6, Young will be in Knott Auditorium sharing his inspiring life story of athleticism, survival, resilience, strength and the gift of a second chance. At 6:30 p.m., he will speak in Knott Auditorium about the two most defining moments of his life, followed by a talk at 7:30 p.m. on what it’s like to be in the Olympics. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet Young and take a selfie with his gold medal. Bone marrow donor registration tables will be staffed from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tables will also be staffed in Patriot Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on both September 6 and 7.


Who can be a donor?

If you are age 18 to 55 in good health, registering for the first time, and you are not a member of the U.S. military or active in ROTC or the Reserves, you can register. More specific information is available at the event.

How do I register?

After determining that you are eligible and willing to register, you will fill out a registration form and then use two sterile swabs to swab your cheeks, These will be sealed and sent for processing.

Are there special needs?

Patients are more likely to match donors who share their ancestry. African American, Latino and Asian patients tend to have more diverse tissue type characteristics, making it difficult to find a match. Currently the national registry is only 10 percent Hispanic or Latino, 7 percent African American and 7 percent Asian.

What are the chances I’ll get called to donate?

You could be called as a potential match within weeks of registering, or it could take years. There is a chance that you may never be called, but there is also the chance that, if you do get called, you are the only one who can save that patient’s life.