National Marrow Donor Program coming to town

By Jackie Johnson
Organizers say a fundraiser coming to Portales this week is the first of its kind in eastern New Mexico.

The idea is to add to the Bone Marrow Registry, which matches patients with potential donors across the country.

The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Campus Union Building.
Eastern New Mexico University Hispanic Affairs officials were inspired to hold the event supporting the National Marrow Donor Program by a former student.
Tere Bautista-Hurtado received a  successful bone marrow transplant  through the Be The Match registry, officials said.

Kaitlyn Fishman of the donor program  said the ENMU event is intended to help expand diversity within the registry. Hispanics and Latinos combined only make up 10 percent of the registry, and patients have a better chance of finding a match with someone who shares their ancestry, Fishman said.

People who are interested in joining the marrow registry must be between the ages of 18 and 44.

Fishman said joining is a five-to-10-minute process that consists of filling out a consent form and one cheek swab. The swab will determine if a donor is a match with patients in need of a marrow transplant.

Annabel Jauregui, who works in the Hispanic Affairs office, said the donation samples will be kept on file and if a match is made, the donor will be contacted if needed.

There is no cost to those registering.

“There are so many people in need of a matching donor,” Fishman said. “This is an opportunity to save a life, and it only takes a few minutes of someone’s time.”

There will be a brief presentation about the registry prior to the drive  to help raise awareness about marrow donations.

“Educating the public is key so that people are aware of the facts about marrow donation,” Fishman said. “My goal is to share facts with everyone at ENMU so they can then make an educated decision as to how they would like to become involved.”

If people are not eligible or interested in joining the registry, they can still help.

There will be a fundraiser occurring during the drive called Share the Love in which candy and pins can be purchased for a minimum donation of $3. Every person who makes a purchase will be entered into a raffle to win prizes.

The funds are used to help grow the registry, provide patient financial assistance and continue ground-breaking research.