Saturday kicks off blood marrow drives for Doby, others

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
All it takes is a cheek swab to save someone’s life.
Thousands of people are diagnosed every year with leukemia or other life-threatening diseases.
Salisbury resident Carl Doby is just one.
In 2004, Doby was diagnosed with leukemia followed by aggressive chemotherapy treatments.
He was recently diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease that affects his ability to produce platelets. The disease occurred as a result of the chemotherapy.
The Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross is overseeing several bone marrow donation drives for Doby.
He and his family hope that through a series of bone marrow donation drives he can find a bone marrow match.
Of the people seeking a donor match, 70 percent do not have a match among family members. It is preferred to have a match come from a sibling, but oftentimes, that is not possible. Then people rely on Be The Match Registry, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program.
“There are 6,000 patients who check the registry daily to see if they have a match,” said Paul Biernacki, a bone marrow consultant working with the Red Cross.
Potential donors have to be between 18 and 60 years old, be of general good health and willing to be a donor, if matched.
The donor must sign a consent form, answer a few basic health questions and have a cheek swab taken.
That person could be a potential match for someone just about anywhere.
The registry has an agreement with 35 countries and goes nationwide.
The registry will contact the potential donor if there is a match. The person will have to have blood drawn and additional tests to determine if they are an exact match.
A donor is matched through tissue, not blood type, Biernacki said.
Generally, people in particular ethnic groups are a match for someone else in that same ethnic group.
There is a need to have more minorities become donors, he said.
“It can be more lives that can be saved,” Biernacki said.
Bone marrow is tissue in the center of the bones that produces white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
White blood cells help fight infection, red blood cells carry oxygen to the body and platelets help the blood to clot.
Leukemia like Doby’s is a cancer of the blood and can prevent the immune system from working normally.
Be The Match Registry just underwent a name change.
“There’s a tremendous need for people to support the program and bring about awareness,” Biernacki said.
The drives are as follows:
– Marrow drive. Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Faith Elementary School cafeteria, 1000 School St., Faith.
Yard sale and bake sale with proceeds going to the National Marrow Donor Foundation.
– Blood/marrow drive. April 19, 1-5:30 p.m. Union Lutheran Church, 4770 Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury.
For an appointment to donate, call the church office at 704-636-5092.
– Marrow drive. April 22, 2ń5 p.m. Cabarrus County DSS, U.S. 29 (Old K-Mart Building), Kannapolis.
– Marrow drive. May 2, 4-8 p.m. Grace Ridge Club House, Grace Church Road, Salisbury.
Covered dish meal with proceeds going to the National Marrow Donor Foundation.
– Marrow drive. May 2, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Salem United Methodist Church, 20987 N.C. 73, Albemarle.
Car show and bake sale with proceeds going to Relay for Life.
“Our hope is people will want to be a match to save a life,” Biernacki said.
For more information about bone marrow donation, contact Biernacki at his Charlotte office, 704-921-3582 or