OSU students lead the way

Whatever their opinion on embryonic vs. adult stem cells, students at Oregon State University in Corvallis have recognized that the availability of stem cell donors is crucial to stem cell therapy. They have also acknowledged that minority donors are sorely under-represented in lists of potential donors. The following news article, from the Oregon State Daily Barometer online, 21 May 2006, is quoted below in its entirety--without the explicit permission of the newspaper or author:

Minority donors in high demand

Bone marrow drive part of effort to raise cultural health issues
By Susie Bafico

A pair of events coming to OSU aim to raise cultural health issues and save lives.

The events are slated for Thursday, May 25, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Multicultural Health Fair Committee, Students for Home Marrow Programming and Asian/Pacific American Education Office will host OSU’s second Annual Multicultural Health Fair and the fifth Annual Bone Marrow Drive.

This year the marrow drive’s goal is to increase the number of registrants with an emphasis on minority donor registration.

Donors are needed especially who are African American, Native American, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino.

A press release for the event stated that the odds of patients from these racial minority groups finding a marrow donor match is comparable to winning the Powerball lottery — one in a million.

“However, the drive is open to anyone and everyone,” said Pachida Lo.

This year is the first time there is no blood required to be drawn and no cost to the students.

Lo said in the past students had to pay at least $25 of the $52 fee for Human Leukocyte Antigen tissue typing, which is a “cheek swab.”

This year the fee for HLA-tissue typing is covered by grants obtained by OSU Students for Bone Marrow Programming Committee.

After doing the HLA tissue typing and completing the donor consent form, donors are asked to remain committed until their 61st birthday.

If the donor is informed of a marrow match, all medical and non-medical expenses needed for the donation is paid for by the National Marrow Donor Program and the patient’s insurance.

Since racial and ethnic minority donor matches are rare, OSU has created an incentive for the cultural centers to get their groups to participate.

Lo said that if 10 percent of a group registers as a donor, that cultural center will receive a $200 prize and be recognized with a plaque in the MU.

The number of actual students in each group varies by its population on campus.

American Indian/Alaska Natives need 23 students, Asian/Pacific Islanders need 148 students, Black/African Americans need 26 students and Hispanic/Latinos need 63 students, according to the press release.

Lo said 10 percent was chosen as a good target to meet, and if it is successful it could be used as a national model by NMDP.

Lo mentioned that this drive is also to bring awareness of new techniques for obtaining bone marrow.

“In the past it was always the pelvic draw (for marrow),” Lo said.

However, there is an alternative that Lo said is used 75 percent of the time called peripheral blood stem cell transplant.

This procedure involves filtering blood for four hours and stimulating stem cells. “And then your blood is returned to you,” Lo said.

At the same time, the Multicultural Health Fair will be providing free food, music and giveaways, as well as helpful health information.

Lo said this year the fair is a bigger event with longer hours due to the help of 20 active volunteers. There will be health screenings done by College of Pharmacy and Student Health Services and depression and stress screenings by Counseling and Psychological Services.

There will be an information table on Monday in the MU Quad to help spread awareness.

As I said in a comment I sent to the newspaper, Congratulations for a well-written article and for students and a school who act so strongly in fulfilling the needs of others.

Marie Godfrey, PhD


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