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University of Iowa News Release

 

May 16, 2007

Special Donor Event May 17 Will Help Save Lives

Iowans will have an important opportunity to help save lives by signing up as marrow donors and donating blood during a special event Thursday, May 17, at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Both efforts will take place on the first level of the John Pappajohn Pavilion in the atrium area near Elevator I. Anyone who wishes to become a potential marrow or stem cell donor may do so at any point during that period of time.

The hours of the marrow donor drive are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The blood drive event will last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

People can sign up to donate blood by calling the DeGowin Blood Center at 319-356-2058 or online at http://uihealthcare.com/bloodcenter.

The marrow donor registration drive follows a very successful event in the Quad Cities May 8 that added approximately 1,000 new donors to the registry. Both marrow donor registration drives are part of the nationwide "Thanks Mom! Marrow Donor Drive" sponsored by the National Marrow Donor Program. The project encourages people to honor their mothers for giving them the gift of life by being willing to possibly pass that same gift on to others.

All UI employees, visitors, local residents and their families and friends may register as marrow donors during this campaign. The National Marrow Donor Program will cover the $52 cost to DNA-type each new member, making the process free of cost to the volunteers. At other times, new members are asked to donate the cost of their typing or help fundraise to cover this cost.

New DNA technology now allows registrants to swab the inside of their own mouth for a DNA sample rather than have their blood drawn. Registration is simple and includes completing an information sheet, signing a consent form and swabbing the inside of the mouth.

Newly registered members of the state and national marrow donor registries could potentially help save the lives of people such as Lizeth Garcia, an 18-year-old freshman student at the UI who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Garcia, a graduate of Marshalltown High School, became an active volunteer in the fight against cancer when she held leadership positions in JEL (Just Eliminate Lies), Iowa's youth-led anti-tobacco movement.

There is also Stephen Alldredge, M.D., a well-loved and highly respected cardiologist in the Quad Cities, who was recently diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome. He learned that a blood stem cell transplant is his best chance to survive his disease.

Because a match donor was not available within their families, Alldredge and Garcia are both now in a race against time to find the unrelated donors who could save their lives.

Participating in the drive takes 15 to 20 minutes. The participant's tissue type will then be entered into a national registry and could benefit patients anywhere in the world. There is no expense to the potential donor.

If a potential tissue type match is identified, blood tests facilitated by the Iowa Marrow Donor Program would be necessary to determine if that is the best match.

If you would like to know more about marrow and blood stem cell donation or have a question about any of the events listed above, please call the Iowa Marrow Donor Program toll free at 800-944-8220. The Iowa Marrow Donor Program is part of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

Each year, more than 30,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with diseases treatable by a stem cell transplant. Of the patients needing to receive healthy stem cells from someone else, only 30 percent have a suitable family match, leaving the remaining 70 percent to rely on unrelated donors.

The Iowa Marrow Donor Program was created in 1981 and became affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program in 1991. On average, 25 to 30 donors are called to donate each year from the Iowa Marrow Donor Program's registry of almost 25,000 persons, and many more are called for further testing. Approximately 2,000 people join the Iowa and national registries each year through the Iowa Marrow Donor Program.

The DeGowin Blood Center supplies blood products for patients at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Last year, there were more than 32,000 transfusions involving blood products at UI Hospitals and Clinics, or an average of nearly 90 every day. You must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be cold and flu symptom free for five days to donate blood.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.