By Kyle Kittredge
Especially for college students rushing about, time is of the utmost importance. And now an easy, quick and harmless way to help save someone’s life is just a cheek swab away.
The Gift of Life is an organization trying to give UNH students the opportunity to join the national public bone marrow registry through a public cheek swabbing event on campus. This past Tuesday the organization had a table set up in the Murkland courtyard to raise awareness and swab students.
“A simple cheek swab takes about 60 seconds and if [students] do that, they can see if they get a genetic match with someone who needs a stem cell or bone marrow transplant,” explained Jacqueline Marshall, a junior genetics major and campus ambassador for the Gift of Life at UNH.
Throughout the year, as part of her position, Marshall will set up drives to get students on the registry, get more volunteers, and raise awareness for the Gift of Life.
“It’s a rewarding job,” she said.
The Gift of Life’s goal is to “add up to 1,000 students to the registry and raise $1,000 each year,” according to their information board.
“It takes literally a minute, and it could save someone’s life,” members of the group said to students passing by.
Many with blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, are in need of bone marrow or stem cell transplants to produce blood cells since these diseases have damaged their bone marrow, which produces blood cells in the body.
And, according to The Gift of Life website, 1 in 200 Americans will receive a stem cell transplant in their lifetime.
Another important fact about the cause, Marshall said, is “about 1 in 1000 will be called to be a bone marrow match.”
“So the more people we get on the registry the more chance there is that someone will get that match to save their life,” she added.
The process is simple: Go to the table, fill out basic information about yourself, do four cheek swabs on each side of your mouth, label it.
Sometime after, participants may receive a call about being a match with someone and will be asked to donate bone marrow or stem cells for the person. However, the option to donate is always voluntary.
At Tuesday’s event, once students completed the process they were offered free items such as water bottles and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, donuts and munchkins.
“At other places you have to fill out all the medical forms and it takes like 20 minutes, Marshall said, “so we’re trying to make this quick and efficient for college students who need to get from here to there.”
Students in attendance believed that the awareness of this issue was important as well.
“I think it’s a good example of a big issue, and shows willingness to do something bigger than just yourself,” junior Morgan Lynch said.
“It’s a quick and easy way to do it, too,” Lynch commented, “since a lot of students are busy.”
The Gift of Life foundation will have another event on Dec. 6. called Grow and Mow for Marrow in the Strafford Room from 12 to 3 p.m. where they will swab more students for the registry.