Many students experience a great deal of change during their time in college. I feel like I have had more life changing experiences over the past two years than I have over the course of my whole life. Last September, I was hospitalized for almost three weeks while being treated for a rare, life-threatening blood disease that was causing my kidneys to fail called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. During my hospitalization I was in the ICU, had to be life-flighted to a different hospital, had a colonoscopy, and received six blood transfusions. After this incredibly eye-opening event, I reevaluated my life and decided that should an opportunity to help sick people arise, I would do anything in my power to contribute and give back.
Be The Match is a nonprofit that delivers cures to patients with life-threatening blood cancers through bone marrow transplants. Representatives came to Sonoma State University recently for Community Partner Thursdays to talk to students about ways to get involved with their organization. Frances Lee, community engagement representative, explained to me that, "there are so many ways to support Be The Match such as joining the registry with a simple cheek swab or getting involved in our volunteering and internship opportunities." Be The Match also works with faculty to perform service-learning projects for their classes. Lee was excited about the potential to work with different clubs and groups on campus such as the Department of Nursing and the Student Health Center. Majors that would fit well volunteering for Be The Match are biology, sociology, human development, communications, and business with a concentration in marketing.
Frances told me about a recent SSU Alum who was diagnosed with blood cancer and was given a bone marrow donation that saved her life. Because of the impact this had on her, she changed her major to biology to help patients in the same circumstance that she was once in.
Be the Match is always looking for volunteers to help at events and donor drives. Volunteers will receive training from Be The Match and will help educate people about blood stem cell and marrow donation. Volunteers also assist new donors in completing their donor registration form and cheek swab. They're also looking for volunteers with skills/interest in marketing to assist in their outreach and event promotion efforts. They want volunteers who will help promote Be The Match on social media as well.
There is opportunity for volunteers to organize their own donor drives within their community. They will provide volunteers with all the resources needed to be a successful addition to the Be The Match team. If you can't join the registry for any reason, please consider giving to this great cause by volunteering your time.
Be The Match is currently recruiting for summer and fall interns. One of the current strives of the organization to add more ethnically diverse people to the registry. Currently the registry is 65% White, making it difficult for diverse patients to find a donor match. one of the duties of interns is to outreach in ethnically diverse communities to bring awareness and education about the need for more diversity of the registry. Other responsibilities include giving presentations to community groups, organizing and staffing donor registration drives, and providing feedback and suggestions to Be The Match on how to improve outreach and advertisement of the marrow registry.
If you are interested in volunteering or applying for an internship, contact Frances.
I personally will be signing up for the registry and encourage my friends, family, and peers to do that same. Being on the registry does not guarantee you'll be donating and you can unregister at any time. The process of donating bone marrow is very similar to donating blood, most of the time. Being in a life or death situation is definitely the scariest feeling in the world. By applying to the bone marrow registry, you could be the cure and relieve someone of this feeling. And trust me, that's the greatest gift to give someone in such dire circumstances.