Kappa Kappa Gamma hosted a bone marrow registration event in partnership with the Icla da Silva Foundation, a New York-based organization for recruiting bone marrow donors, on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Eighty-one possible donors visited the top of the stairs in Kimmel where they had the inside of their cheeks swabbed. The information from the swab was added to the Be the Match registry, a list of bone marrow donors used to find donor matches for patients.
Icla da Silva is the largest recruiting center for the Be the Match registry. It was established 20 years ago in New York in honor of Icla da Silva, a 13-year-old Brazilian girl who died of leukemia after not being able to find a donor.
“It’s easier to find a match within the same racial and ethnic background,” said da Silva’s brother, Airam, who is the president of the organization. “There’s a great need to create awareness and education within the racial ethnic background.”
The plan for a drive at NYU began when CAS junior Meredith Menache approached CAS sophomore Daniella Giardina, who was on the executive board of Kappa Kappa Gamma last spring, with the idea to host a marrow drive. She first heard of Be the Match through a friend who was diagnosed with lymphoma in the May of 2012. Manache’s friend’s transplant rejected the bone marrow and that is when she became involved in this cause.
“[The failed transplant] still gave him some extra time and as soon as he told me about it, I signed up. Since then, I’ve become more passionate about it,” Manache said.
Menache explained that the process of donating bone marrow was once painful and dangerous. Today, donors are put under general anesthesia and have a needle stuck in their hip to collect bone marrow, but not enough that it affects the immune system.
“We want to show people that it’s not that scary. Having some tenderness in your hip for three days is nothing compared to what you’re doing for someone else,” Menache said.
This drive is sponsoring an 8-year-old boy named Luis who has been looking for a donor since June.
“The specialist at Icla told me I should choose a patient to honor at the drive,” Giardina said. “I saw the picture of Luis, read his story and knew he was the right choice. He’s an 8-year-old with leukemia, but he’s so optimistic and bubbly. He won’t give up fighting, and he won’t give up staying positive.”
CAS sophomore Erin Flanagan was convinced to donate when she saw the group in Kimmel.
“They said it only takes five minutes and all you have to do is fill out a form and swab your mouth. And you could save a life,” Flanagan said. “How can you say no to that?”
A version of this story appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 24 print edition. Klein Aleardi is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]