Bone Marrow Drive Coming to Campus
BY AUSTIN MORRIS
Westminster student groups organized by Dr Bob Hansen will be hosting registration events for potential bone marrow donors. In an exclusive interview, Dr Bob shares his hopes for this blood drive.
With the help of Delete Blood Cancer, four Westminster clubs and organizations will encourage new students and faculty to register for potential bone marrow donations. During the first week of March, representatives from WHEP, Service Corps, Delta Tau Delta, and Dr. Bob Hansen’s seminar class will be found in JCI and Mueller Dining Hall organizing the drive and educating members of the community about how they can save lives affected by blood cancer.
According to Delete Blood Cancer, an organization aiming to register as many people as possible as bone marrow donors, an American is diagnosed with blood cancer, including leukemia, once every four minutes. For many, a bone marrow transplant is the best or only chance for survival.
“An American is diagnosed with blood cancer, including leukemia, once every four minutes. For many, a bone marrow transplant is the best or only chance for survival.” – Delete Blood Cancer
This drive was organized and brought to campus by Dr. Bob Hansen. Dr. Bob’s son, Matt, was diagnosed last summer at the age of 31 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a particularly dangerous form of the disease. With the help of 4 months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in October, Matt Hansen is on the path to recovery thanks to the help of his friends, family, and an anonymous donor on the Bone Marrow Registry.
A registered bone marrow donor could be a match for any of the 14,000 Americans per year who rely on a stranger for a second chance at life. More likely than not, a donor will never be contacted, and will always have the option to decline donating. Registration is very important for those with leukemia, as a more extensive donor list means a greater chance of finding a life-saving match.
During registration in the Dining Hall and JCI from March 3 to March 5, organization representatives will walk potential donors through the very simple process of swabbing their cheek with a Q-Tip for DNA. This, along with some additional information provided by the donor, is sent to Delete Blood Cancer, where their anonymous information will be added to the registry.
If an individual in the registry is matched with a person in need of a bone marrow transplant, only then will they be contacted for a donation. There most method for collecting the donation involves a filtration of stem cells from the donor’s blood, called PBSC. This is a non-intrusive procedure which is no more painful than a simple blood donation, and involves the filtration of stem cells out of a donor’s blood to be used in a patient’s treatment.
“This is a non-intrusive procedure which is no more painful than a simple blood donation.”
Healthy individuals between 18 and 55 are eligible to become donors. International students may donate, but registry officials recommend that if they do not plan to stay in the U.S. for an extended period of time, it would be more beneficial for them to become registered in their home countries. By registering to be a potential bone marrow donor you, too, could be a hero and give a person in need another chance at life.
I was able to meet with Dr. Hansen last week for a short interview about his involvement, expectations, and inspirations.
Q: For those who have yet to get to know you, what courses do you teach at Westminster and what organizations/groups are you a part of?
BH: I am a professor of Organizational Leadership and was previously the Executive Director of the Emerson Center for Leadership and Service. Over the years, I’ve been involved in most of the social justice and service-oriented groups on campus. I also work on projects in East Africa and I now serve as the President of Humanity for Children, a nonprofit humanitarian organization committed to improving the quality of life for children and mothers in remote areas of Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. I go to East Africa each summer, almost always taking a small group of students with me.
Q: How many students and faculty do you expect Westminster to add to the registry during the week of the drive?
BH: In the past, we’ve had 40-70 people register to become bone marrow donors but our goal this year is 100. We may be surprised with a much higher number but we’ll be delighted with 100.
Q: What are some ways other than registering to donate can help those affected by blood cancer?
BH: Education and awareness about leukemia and other forms of blood cancer and the Bone Marrow Registry are our primary goals, in addition to adding donors to the national registry. Registration and donation is the most helpful contribution a person can make. Monetary donation is, of course, also an option. Though the registration and cheek swab at the school are free to those wishing to register, it costs Delete Blood Cancer $65 per registration to cover all associated costs.
Q: Who else on campus or in your life has helped make a difference in the world? How so?
BH: Great question. You might think that I’d list some mentors or other inspirational peers but, to be honest, my greatest admiration and inspiration comes from so many of our students – past and present — who sacrifice their time, talents and energy to help those who face serious life challenges such as homelessness, hunger, loss of human rights, access to education and health care.