Student hosts a bone marrow drive on campus

Dana Wilson, senior in social work, signs up to be a donor at the bone marrow drive in the Derby Dining Center on Dec. 3, 2015. (Jessica Robbins | The Collegian)

As the holiday season approaches, a bone marrow match could be the perfect gift for many individuals around the world that need one.

Emily Mayfield, senior in family studies and human services, hosted a bone marrow drive Thursday afternoon in the Derby Dining Center.

There were 112 people who registered to donate bone marrow at the drive. Initially, Mayfield organized the drive to help Tyler Regier, a 3-year-old battling Acute Lymphatic Leukemia.

“Thankfully Tyler has found a match and has a transplant scheduled for the early part of next year,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield said that the bone marrow drive was not targeted toward one specific individual, however.

“The bone marrow drive can help all those that are looking for a match, so that we can help all of the other Tyler’s that are out there still trying to find a match to beat their blood cancer,” Mayfield said.

Raymond Grosdidier, freshman in computer science, said that he heard about the bone marrow drive from a fellow student in his leadership class.

Students that wanted to donate were first required to fill out a contact sheet and questionnaire. The paperwork is used to verify their eligibility to donate and to reach them if a match is successfully found.

Once students filled the necessary paperwork out, they had both cheeks swabbed and then were free to go.

Crystal Posey, freshman in architectural engineering, said that the registration process was very easy.

“I believe donating is very important,” Posey said. “You never know; you may be the one that needs it in the future.”

Mayfield said that the swabs and registrations are sent and logged into the national registry bank that is available for doctors to use for their patients in need of transplants.

Matches are determined by the patient’s human leukocyte antigen, which is a protein found on most cells in the body. Mayfield said that a bone marrow transplant is often the last chance for an individual to beat their blood cancer.

Mayfield is a cancer survivor and said she knows all too well what it is like to search for the perfect bone marrow match. She said she battled acute myeloid leukemia for a year.

“In my own life, chemotherapy wasn’t working, so I needed a bone marrow transplant to beat my leukemia,” Mayfield said. “I am thankful that my little brother donated his stem cells to myself. The transplant is the reason why I am cancer free today and have been for two years.”

According to Be The Match, one in 40 registry members will be called for additional testing, which is used to narrow the list of potential donors and to determine the best possible match for the patient.

According to the same source, one in 300 people will be selected as the best possible donor for a patient.

In 2012, a bone marrow drive was hosted for Mayfield. On that day, 300 people joined the registry and two matches were found.

Emily Zwonitzer, senior in social work, said she would donate her bone marrow if she was found to be the perfect match for someone in need.

“Knowing that I could potentially save someone’s life is a good enough reason for me to donate,” Zwonitzer said.

Mayfield said that she was pleased with the turnout at the bone marrow drive held at K-State.

“It was awesome to see 110 people come out, even with obstacles that came about organizing the event and it being at the end of the semester,” Mayfield said. “It is a cool opportunity to inform people about the bone marrow registry because I know the impact a bone marrow transplant can make. My life was saved because of a bone marrow transplant.”