Bone marrow drive aims to increase minority base
To combat the particularly low supply of bone marrow from minorities, black, Native-American, Latino and Asian-American students signed up last week to save lives through a bone marrow registration drive.
Students went to the Livingston Student Center to give a few drops of blood for tissue-type testing. Currently, there is a large discrepancy between minority donors and minorities in need of bone-marrow transplants, said Archna Snehi, a Rutgers College senior and representative of RU Community Cares, which sponsors similar events nearly every semester and registered about 150 people in the fall.
This is an important event because it "makes people more aware how they can help the community in general," Snehi said.
Presently, 70 percent of people registered in the National Marrow Donor Program are white, so "whenever minorities get leukemia, it's hard to get a match," said George Chaung, a Livingston College junior and member of Lambda Phi Epsilon Fraternity, which is very involved in the program.
Bone marrow matches are found among patients' family members 30 percent of the time. When this fails, however, patients' chances of finding appropriate matches are significantly greater within their own ethnic groups. Healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 are eligible to donate, according to the program's Web site.
"I'm coming out to donate because it's very little time to take out of my day to try to save someone's life," said Hemanshu Patel, a Rutgers College first-year student.
"I like doing community service. Why not help others?" Douglass College first-year student Tejal Shah said.
The number of minority patients who have had transplants has nearly tripled since 1995 because the numbers of registered volunteers from minority groups have been increasing, according to the Web site.
Registration drives play a big part in the increase of transplants.
In 2001, Rutgers broke a national record by registering over 1,000 people in two drives. Some Rutgers alumni have been the beneficiaries of these campaigns, said Radhika Patel, a Rutgers College senior and member of RU Community Cares,
RU Community Cares, the Asian Student Council and Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian-American fraternity, sponsored the drive. RU Community Cares has organized blood drives, CPR training and the upcoming March of Dimes, and it is also active in soup kitchens and other projects, according to a prepared statement from the group.
The Rutgers chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon was founded two years ago, according to a prepared statement from the fraternity. It has participated in the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group's "Hunger Cleanup," the Special Olympics Winterfest, Habitat for Humanity projects and other community-service activities.
"Philanthropy is one of the cornerstones of our fraternity," said Frank Chang, Lambda Phi Epsilon philanthropy chairman and a Rutgers College sophomore.