“Be a Match” the posters and emails exhorted, advertising the Feb. 17 marrow registry drive held at Hamilton. After four such events and 500 sign-ups, Milinda Ajawara ’16 has been identified as a Hamilton match for an individual in need of a marrow transplant. Be the Match, the organization that maintains the registry, rightly proclaims that “every potential donor who proves to be a match has a chance to be a hero and save a life.”
Ajawara was contacted last spring after the first campus event. Although she has not yet been called to donate, she underwent additional tests to confirm that she is a suitable match for a patient in need. She is waiting for a possible call from the registry. “I never really anticipated that I would be contacted,” Ajawara explained. “I never thought about that step of the process when I signed up, I knew that I would be willing to donate but to me it was like entering into the lottery and the chances were very small of ever matching with someone.”
All four campus events have been supported by Fitness Center Director Dave Thompson and organized by Betty House ’14, Days Massolo administrative assistant. House was first motivated to set up registry events after her own brother was diagnosed with a blood disease and no family member was a match for him. Fortunately a donor was later located in Germany, and her brother has since recovered.
This week’s 84 registrants included members of the faculty and staff as well as students and Bon Appetit employees. Participants joined by filling out a short health questionnaire and taking a swab of their cheek. Those who were unable to register on campus can still do so by going to the Be the Match foundation website.
In the last year, House has run or has scheduled registry events at several other local colleges including Utica College, Herkimer Community College, SUNY- Poly and Mohawk Valley Community College as well as at other Central New York venues. Last year three events were held at Hamilton – in February, at a Wellness Fair and at new student orientation.
These events are literal lifesavers in that every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with leukemia or another blood cancer and for many, the only cure is a transplant. Half of the people in need have no match simply because there aren’t enough potential donors registered. Thousands die waiting for a match, according to the registry.
Both Utica’s Observer-Dispatch and the Rome Sentinel wrote about Hamilton’s several campus-based registry drives in advance of this week’s event, generating additional public interest. Queries included one from the aunt of a recipient who wanted to start holding marrow drives as a way to give back and was seeking guidance. “Brother's Illness Spurs Local Woman to Find Marrow Donors” appeared on Feb. 17 in the Observer-Dispatch and “Colleges to host bone marrow registry drives” appeared in the Rome Sentinel on Feb. 8.