THON weekend blood drive Includes bone marrow registry

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The American Red Cross has been partnered with the Penn State Dance Marathon since 2001 to help maintain regional blood supplies, and at the last THON blood drive Feb. 16 of THON weekend, the Red Cross will make a $4 donation to the Four Diamonds Fund in honor of each presenting donor.

The Penn State Dance Marathon is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. The Four Diamond’s fund is the direct link between the families battling cancer and THON. Cancer patients make up nearly 20 percent of blood users, and this joint effort ensures that those who need blood will receive it.

The Feb. 16 drive, will be last opportunity to benefit THON and the Four Diamonds Fund this year. The drive, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Intramural Building, also offers the opportunity for eligible participants to join the bone marrow registry through Delete Blood Cancer.

According to the Headstrong Foundation, “An estimated 44,790 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in the United States this year.” For many, a marrow or blood stem cell transplant is the only cure. If someone needs a bone marrow transplant, the best match is much more likely to come from someone of the same ethnic background. As with blood, there are certain genetic markers that are more or less prevalent in different racial groups. As the number of matching markers increases, the better the chance that the bone marrow transplant will be successful.

Minority registrants are desperately needed in the registry. There are more than 5.5 million people in the registry who are willing to donate marrow. However, the majority of these people are Caucasian. African-Americans only find an unrelated donor match 25 percent of the time, Hispanics are 45 percent. Minority patients have a less chance of finding a suitable match.

Entry to the registry is painless, requiring only a simple cheek swab.

Requirements are different for entering the registry than donating blood. Potential donors must weigh more than 110 pounds without a body-mass index exceeding 40. Registrants may be an international student (if planning to be in the U.S. for at least two years). There are no travel restrictions or minimum blood iron levels. Potential donors can even be sick on the day of the registry. Those who are unable to donate blood may still be eligible to enter Delete Blood Cancer.

For more information about Delete Blood Cancer, visit www.deletebloodcancer.org. Appointments are recommended to donate blood, but appointments are not necessary to enter the registry. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, visit www.psuredcross.org.

Last Updated February 15, 2013