Bone marrow drive results in large turnout

By Brenden Walz

Along with increasing the number of potential donors, the results from last Wednesday’s first minority bone marrow drive at NIU could also increase the chance of saving a human life.

Mary Bowden, technical director of the Northern Illinois Blood Bank in Rockford, said the drive signed up a total of 97 potential bone marrow donors.

She said out of the total number of donors who participated in the bone marrow drive, 83 were of minority backgrounds and 14 were white.

Bowden said the majority of minority donors were either black or Latino, but several Asians and Native Americans donated as well.

Bob Besonen became interested in organizing a drive after his then 4-year-old son needed and finally got a bone marrow transplant.

He said he was pleased with the turnout for the first-time event.

“The turnout was very good,” Besonen said. “We were real pleased with it.

“It’s a testament to everyone that they heard of a need and were willing to help out,” he said.

Bowden said the number of minority donors at the drive exceeded expectations. She said she initially expected between 30 to 50 students to show up.

Following the collection of donations, the blood samples will be sent to a lab for tissue typing, which she said will probably take a month to complete.

After the tissues have been typed, the donor’s information is entered into the National Marrow Donor Program’s computer database for use in donor searches.

If a match is found, Bowden said the potential donor will be asked to come in for further testing to determine how close the match is.

She said the average chance for a match is one person in 20,000 people.

With the positive results from the first drive, both said they would like to see the drive become an annual event.

“The first drive has increased everyone’s awareness,” Bowden said. “We would like to do it twice a year if possible.”

They added that the participation of several NIU student groups helped keep the drive running smoothly.