MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The station hosted a National Bone Marrow donor registry drive Nov. 18 at the commissary, Marine Corps Exchange and the 7-Day Store here during the Health and Wellness Fair.
The registry was held for three military children who have a rare genetic blood disorder and need bone marrow transplants. The family is located in Brunswick, Maine, and neither of the parents’ bone marrow matches their children’s.
Veterans, station service members and their family members registered during the bone marrow drive by having their mouths swabbed.
“It takes about five minutes to do the mouth swab and to fill out the paperwork,” said Lt. j.g. Beth Kane, Branch Medical Clinic clinical coordinator. “I know Marines are normally scared of needles, so with this procedure, they have nothing to worry about because there are no needles involved.”
Col. Ben D. Hancock, station commanding officer, said the new procedure, to register is easier than the one used previously.
“It’s easy to persuade people to register since it only takes a wipe of a cotton swab,” he said. “The procedure is painless and the time it takes to fill out the paper work; it’s hard to pass up.”
Once registered, bone marrow donors will be in the directory for the next five years, said Kane.
“The sample stays in a registry and they may call you back years later if they find a match,” added Kane.
Not only does each donor stay in the registry for a while, but another reason some people registered for the drive had to do with the people they love.
“I thought of my five children and what if they ever needed a transplant, but none of my family could do it,” said Melissa Hancock, wife of the station CO. “I would like to think there would be other people willing to do the same in return.”
The drive was open for registration even if you have taken anti-malaria medication, had a recent tattoo, served in the United Kingdom, Europe, Iraq or Africa.
The bone marrow drive was open for all military and family members, Department of Defense employees and contractors ages 18 to 60. There are also currently 500 military personnel and family members in the Department of Defense who need a transplant.
The drive also encountered personnel who have never registered before.
“This is my first time registering for a bone marrow drive,” said Lance Cpl. Johnny Gonzalez, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron legal clerk. “I didn’t know this was going on today, but after they explained what was going on, I couldn’t resist. Now that I participated, it’s good to know that I could possibly save someone’s life.”
“I’m lucky to be healthy, so I am glad to give someone that’s not as fortunate some of my health,” said Ben. “There are more people who need a bone marrow transplant compared to people who are willing to donate.”
“It’s a small military world, so why not help out military families?” said Kane. “There is no amount of money that a parent wouldn’t pay to give their child life. The best gift anyone can give someone is life.”
For more information, go to http://www.dodmarrow.com.