Blood drive, bone marrow registry to be held in honor of Ed Thompson

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A special blood drive and national bone marrow registry campaign is being held at Penn State in memory of Ed Thompson, former director of development for the Office of Educational Equity. The campaign, part of the annual Charles Drew Blood Donation Campaign, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 and 10 in Heritage Hall at the HUB-Robeson Center on the University Park campus.

Thompson died in October, 2011, while running the Tussey Mountainback Relay. He served as the president of the Forum on Black Affairs Membership Committee, a leader for the Diversity Action Team in Outreach, and an advisor for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Thompson also raised funds for low-income students and won the Vice President’s Award for Diversity and Public Service.

Individuals from multicultural backgrounds are especially needed to help diversify the blood supply and the national bone marrow registry, however, everyone is encouraged to honor Thompson’s commitment and dedication to the University, including faculty and staff. Thompson was a regular blood donor in the past and always encouraged his fraternity to participate in the Charles Drew Campaign, named for a prominent African-American physician who helped create the widespread system of American Red Cross blood banks that exists today. Each year during Black History Month, this campaign encourages members of the multicultural community to honor his work by becoming lifelong blood donors.

Diversity in the nation's blood supply and bone marrow registry is crucial. Someone who needs blood or a bone marrow transplant is most likely to match someone of his or her own ethnic and racial background. Many people with a multicultural heritage have genetically unique antigens (proteins on the surface of a cell). Matching these antigens in the recipient and donor is necessary for a successful blood transfusion or bone marrow transplant. Donors who have multicultural backgrounds are desperately needed to help ensure that the need is met for all individuals.

For many patients with blood cancers, a bone marrow transplant is their only hope for survival. However, 70 percent of patients needing a marrow transplant cannot find a suitable match within their own family. They must rely on the national bone marrow registry to find an unrelated match. As with blood donations, patients are much more likely to find a match from a donor of similar heritage. The national bone marrow registry contains a significantly lower numbers of African-American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American registrants than Caucasians. Therefore, finding a match for a minority patient is much more difficult. Entry in the registry is easy, just a simple cheek swab. For more information about the national bone marrow registry, visit www.dkmsamericas.org.

These blood drives are included in the partnership that the American Red Cross has with THON. At each THON drive, a $4 donation will be made to the Four Diamonds Fund for every presenting donor. This donation may be credited to any THON-registered student organization’s monetary total. All blood drives on campus through THON weekend will be a part of this effort. In addition to the campaign detailed above, there will be a blood drive and bone marrow registry held Saturday, Feb. 18 in Gym 3 of the Intramural Building, for THON-goers who wish to donate. The American Red Cross has recently issued a critical appeal for all blood types. Appointments to donate blood are encouraged and can be made at www.psuredcross.org.

Five student organizations are sponsoring this year’s Charles Drew Blood Donation Campaign and bone marrow registry this year. Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Iota, Omega Psi Phi, the Student National Medical Association, and the Student Red Cross Club are joining forces for this life-saving event.

In order to donate blood or register to join the national bone marrow registry, donors must meet certain eligibility requirements. However, eligibility requirements for entering the bone marrow registry are less strict than those for donating blood. There are no minimum iron levels or travel restrictions, and international students will be accepted if they plan to be in the US for at least two years. If a person has donated blood within the past 56 days, they can still sign up for the bone marrow registry during these drives.

Visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 866-236-3276 with questions about blood donor eligibility.

Last Updated February 08, 2012