Lambda Phi Epsilon is teaming up with the Be The Match marrow registry program to diversify the registry and potentially save lives.
This week is Bone Marrow Week, and Be The Match will have a table out every day until 2 p.m. in the University Center where students can register to become bone marrow donors. Lambda Phi Epsilon will also be collecting volunteers’ information on the Central Library mall.
“It’s really tough to find matches,” said Tony Le, Lambda Phi Epsilon member. “In order to match someone, you have to have a 90% DNA match. People say getting matched up would be like winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning twice.”
John Do, National Marrow Donor Program volunteer and Lambda Phi Epsilon member, said that the chances of getting matched are even smaller for minority patients.
“You have to find someone that matches with your DNA, so your ethnicity is part of that,” Do said. “The Asian pool in the registry is very low compared to everything else. If you already have a small pool, it’s really hard for you to find someone.”
Do said they are focusing on finding Asian volunteers ages 18 to 44 because it’s the smallest group of volunteers in the registry. He said the lack of Asian volunteers was actually Lambda Phi Epsilon’s main reason for their partnership with Be The Match when a member of their sister sorority was diagnosed with leukemia.
“Nina was under treatment for about two years,” Do said. “Around the end of July, it started getting fatal, and she needed to find someone that could donate marrow to her. At the end of August, she finally found someone. We spread the word nationally, and we decided to host a registry. That’s where we found a match for her in the time span of about a month.”
Do said Nina is alive and well after a successful transplant. He said that if anything like it happens again, then Lambda Phi Epsilon will be doing their job to increase the patient’s chances of survival.
“You just have to put down your contact information and they’ll call you if you’re a match and pull you in for further testing,” said Derrick Edmonds, Be The Match volunteer. “It takes like five minutes to sign up.”
Edmonds said if you match, then you can choose to either donate marrow surgically through the hip or through a nonsurgical procedure called a peripheral blood stem cell donation. He said that even if you do get called, it’s a voluntary program.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get called, but I’d try to do it,” Edmonds said. “If I can do it, I can do it.”