Columbia bone marrow drive successful

By Contributing Writer

By Tyler Eagle, Contributing Writer

Columbia’s chapter of the Public Relation Student Society of America and Be The Match, a nonprofit that helps match donors with recipients, hosted a bone marrow drive Dec. 5 in the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave.

As previously reported by The Chronicle Dec. 3, the purpose of the event was to find a match for Nyiah Young, a 7-year-old Chicago native, with sickle cell anemia, a hereditary condition that has greatly impacted her life. According to Ashley Lavore, a senior marketing communication major and the special events coordinator for PRSSA, 74 Columbia students registered with the bone marrow registry.

“So many people [came] in to hear her story and meet her,” Lavore said. “They understand what has to be done, and it’s because Columbia’s so passionate.”

As students entered the Quincy Wong Center, they filled out forms asking for information such as full name, date of birth and an emergency contact. Students later met with Julie Contreras, a representative of Be The Match, who took DNA samples by swabbing students’ mouths.

Contreras said she was pleased with the turnout at the event and said at past drives she might register one or two donors. She praised the efforts of the PRRSA and Columbia students.

“I think this is probably one of the most organized bone marrow drives I have ever had,” she said. “I want to commend the students at Columbia. I think what they’re doing is an excellent humanitarian effort.”

Contreras said she was pleased that 24 black students registered. There is a shortage of blacks listed on the national donor registry and matches are more likely to occur when both parties are the same race, she said.

“This team of organizers has put a profound message out,” Contreras said. “African-Americans came because they saw the messaging of Nyiah.”

She said she has been working with Young’s family to search for a match for three years. Young receives weekly blood transfusions, Contreras said, and has a shunt, which is a tube connected to her main artery in her chest. At the age 7, she has already had two strokes, Contreras added.

“Young’s only capability of having a quality life and actually living to an older age is if she receives a marrow transplant,” Contreras said.

Keara McGraw, a freshman marketing communication major and a member of PRSSA, contributed to the donor registry. She said Young’s presence at the event helped students connect to the cause.

“I think it’s awesome she came here, so when people come in we’re not just telling them you’re going to save lives, we can show them that they can save people lives,” McGraw said.