The University of Maine at Presque Isle will be holding a bone marrow drive on Tuesday, March 12, at 11 a.m. in the Campus Center's Allagash Room. This event is open to members of the public who are at least 18 years of age or older. Organizers hope to have at least 50 new donors register during the course of this event.
The bone marrow drive, coordinated by the organization Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, is being held to help inform people about how bone marrow donation works and how it can help give people with blood cancer a chance at a long life, as well as to register people to become bone marrow donors.
The organization will cover all of the expenses of donating bone marrow that the donor would normally have to cover out of pocket. Delete Blood Cancer DKMS hopes to increase their success rate of registered donors by eliminating the financial burden an individual donor would have to face.
Ashley Gallop, a Delete Blood Cancer DKMS volunteer, is helping to coordinate the March 12 event in Presque Isle. She got involved in the organization after she met Michael Guglielmo, an ambassador for Delete Blood Cancer DKMS. They met at a Christian Music Festival in New Hampshire three years ago.
"After hearing his heartwarming story, my boyfriend Caleb and I decided to become donors on the spot," Gallop said. "However, much to my dismay, I found out I am ineligible to become a donor. I have to take insulin to control my diabetes, and this prohibits me from donating bone marrow. I am happy to say Caleb is a registered donor, but I still wanted to do my part and help out as many people as I could. That is why we got involved with DKMS—we've been involved with them for about two years now and we enjoy every minute of it."
According to the organization's website, DKMS was founded by Peter Harf, whose wife was dying of blood cancer. Harf worked tirelessly to find his wife a donor, and, with the help of friends and family, he recruited 68,000 donors in one year. In 1991, he founded DKMS along with his wife's physician, Dr. Gerhard Ehninger. That same year, his wife passed away. His daughter, who was 14 at the time of her mother's death, now continues her father's dream of helping others with blood cancer. In 2004, Katharina Harf led Delete Blood Cancer into the United States, establishing DKMS as a national donor recruitment program. The organization is the largest bone marrow donor center, with over 3 million registered donors worldwide and over 30,000 donors that have helped save lives.
Registering to become a donor takes no more than five minutes to fill out paperwork and get swabbed. Becoming a donor is free and painless; however, there are some factors that could keep some people from becoming a donor. The list can be found on the DKMS website, www.deletebloodcancer.org.
"All walk-ins are welcome," Gallop said. "Anyone can come whenever they are available."