A diagnosis of lymphoma or leukemia is terrifying and for many it’s a death sentence. The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation seeks to give those patients better hope for survival through the increase of bone marrow and blood stem cell donations. “All it takes is one person… one person to swab, one person to save one more life, and one more, and one more. But our mission is far from over,” asserted Peter Kovach, FSCJ’s campus ambassador for the foundation.
To begin the process, one must have their cheek swabbed to determine if they are healthy enough to donate. Within about a week’s time, an email will be sent to the donor with additional procedures. From there, the donor will provide a blood sample. Once it is determined the blood sample and cheek swabs belong to the same person, the donor will be informed of the method doctors will use to obtain the marrow. “80% of the time, you will go through a non-surgical procedure called apheresis… blood is drawn into a centrifuge that separates the stem cells from your blood, and the remaining blood is sent back into circulation,” Kovach explained. As for the other 20% of the time? In those instances, doctors will have to use a needle to extract marrow from the pelvic bone. However, rest assured that anesthesia will be used to make the operation as painless as possible.
The next drive will be held at the Fort Caroline Visitor Center on October 17th from nine in the morning until noon. The foundation hopes to organize drives at South and Kent campuses sometime during the fall semester as well. “I want to save as many lives as possible; and with the help of my fellow FSCJ students and faculty, we can make this dream become reality,” Kovach believes.