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Awareness of being a donor for Be The Match

Students learned more about being a bone marrow donor.

A line of students collect the paperwork to register for the Be The Match registry. (Peggy Hogan-Rao, Staff Photographer)
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Senior nursing student Chelsea Sedlak helps Be The Match representative to distribute registry forms to students. (Peggy Hogan-Rao, News Editor)

By Peggy Hogan-Rao, News Editor

The Be The Match bone marrow donor presentation on Thursday Oct. 27 was an opportunity for St. John Fisher students to decide why they should be a donor. The presentation was held in Basil 135 during free period.

Dr. Caroline Critchlow, assistant dean of the School of Nursing, thought of the idea of bringing Be the Match to St. John Fisher after learning about how a Fisher faculty member in the School of Nursing was a potential match.

“The idea was brought to our attention of wouldn’t it be great to have an event here on campus for someone in our Fisher family who has been through this experience,” Critchlow said.

The presentation consisted of mostly videos, with one speaker giving her personal testimony. There was a video sponsored by Be the Match Registry, encouraging those in the audience to join the registry. Then, the audience got to listen to the story of a Wegman’s School of Nursing faculty member journey as she became a donor, and she almost was able to be a donor for someone.

Another video was shown about a young boy Cameron Hurwitz, the son of a Fisher alum. Caryn Hurwitz, class of 1998, thought that coming to Fisher would be a good idea because the nursing school students would be a “prime audience for this type of event.”

Hearing Mike Garbin from the local Be The Match Registry speak about the importance of donating bone marrow brought a new light to this issue of being a donor. Garbin explained, “Bone marrow registry is for those with leukemia, sickle cell, or have a host.” These are three types of diseases that require a bone marrow transplant for the patient to live.

Throughout the video on Be The Match and in Garbin’s talk, there was an emphasis on how by being a donor on the Be The Match registry, you can save a life. To see an example of how one can save a life, look at Cameron Hurwitz.

In late December of 2015, Hurwitz had to undergo a bone marrow transplant, as he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia months earlier. His mom Caryn described the process of receiving the bone marrow as “a frightening venture into the unknown.”

Madalyn Avallone, senior nursing student, liked hearing the personal testimony from young Hurwitz’ mom.

“It was very touching with the family that came,” Avallone said.

Students were able to determine whether or not they would be a donor after attending this presentation. Senior nursing student Jennifer Trainor said, “I was on the fence about being a bone marrow donor and throughout the course of the event I made the decision to become a donor, and I signed up.”

After the presentation on why one should be a donor, there was a table outside of Basil 135 for those interested to sign up to be on the registry. As one who has signed up, I can say that the form was not too hard to fill out, as you just had to give your contact information and a relative’s contact information and get swabs of your cheek for cell samples.

Over 60 Fisher students signed up for the Be The Match registry after the presentation. Critchlow said that she thinks this event was a success because “To look out and see all these Fisher students who wanted to register for the bone marrow donation registry.”

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