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Register for Bone Marrow Drive Oct. 22

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 20, 2010

You never know what will change your life until it happens. When Amira Kabbara went to a bone marrow drive in the spring of 2009, she changed two: hers and the life of a 60-year-old man with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Kabbara, a UNH senior who registered with UNH’s Giovanni's Team, ended up being a match for the man who would have died without the bone marrow that she gave in December 2009. The odds of her being a match were about one in 25,000.

Since then three additional members of the university community have been identified as potential matches.  A UNH alum who registered with the team during a 2008 drive was notified this past March of being a match.  So, the odds just keep getting better.

Which is as good a reason as any to participate in the next Giovanni's Team bone marrow drive, set for Friday, Oct. 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. MUB Room 338.

It’s easy. All you have to do is fill out a medical questionnaire and get your cheek swabbed. it takes about 10 minutes start to finish. The general requirements call for you to be in good health and be between 18 and 55 years old.

A bone marrow transplant can potentially save the life of someone who has leukemia, lymphoma or other diseases that destroy bone marrow. Prior to receiving a transplant, the patient must first undergo chemotherapy and possibly radiation to kill their diseased marrow. Once that’s done, donated marrow is transfused directly into the patient's bloodstream. Eventually, if it takes, the new marrow will begin making healthy blood cells.

“Registering to be a potential bone marrow donor is important because thousands of people die every year from diseases requiring a bone marrow transplant because there are not enough people in the registry,” says UNH senior Lynette Boutin, co-founder of Giovanni’s team.

About 70 percent of the people in need of a transplant rely on an unrelated bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood. To date, Giovanni's Team at UNH has registered more than 800 potential donors.

Giovanni’s Team was founded to help find a bone marrow match for now 4-year-old Giovanni Guglielmo of Belmont who, at 5 months, was diagnosed with a rare immune deficiency disorder known as NEMO, an x-linked chromosomal disorder.

While a match for the boy was not found, doctors were able to do the transfusion with the donation of an umbilical cord. Giovanni underwent a successful transfusion at Boston Children’s Hospital.

To learn more about being a donor, visit: www.getswabbed.org

For information about Friday’s bone marrow drive, contact Boutin at lmy24@unh.edu

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