Students hold event to encourage bone marrow donations

Mitchell Grogg

People using Preston Center Wednesday to build their own bodies had a chance to be a help to others’ bodies.

“College-age students have the best bone marrow,”Cincinnati senior Katie DiTommaso, who helped organize the event, said.

WKU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes worked with the organization Delete Blood Cancer to put students on the bone marrow registry. Those participating needed to fill out paperwork and swab the inside of their mouths. The organizers hope they can find matches for patients who need bone marrow transplants.

For DiTommaso, the motivation was a personal one.

“Back at my home parish, we have a parishioner who needed a bone marrow transplant,” she said. “Unfortunately my twin and I could not participate because we’re not eligible. We both have a rare blood disease that prohibits us from participating, and therefore we were like, ‘Okay, how else can we make a difference?’”

One of the volunteers at this search for bone marrow matches was herself a donor. Union junior Samantha Hawtrey described the donation process as “kind of like donating blood for six hours.”

“It was not fun to sit in a hospital bed for six hours and have to use a bedpan and to be stuck to needles,” she said.

But, Hawtrey noted, the tradeoff was worth the trouble.

“It was really exciting because I was able to hold the cells in my hand and know that the patient was going to get them the next day,” she said.

The potential donors who were swabbed Wednesday, such as Munster, Ind. sophomore Heather Boyan, were also happy about the opportunity the event provided.

“I just wanted the opportunity to save a life if I can,” Boyan said.

She also noted she wanted to see more people put themselves on the registry.

“I just think it’s important to get as many people as we can to try to donate or see if they’re able to donate,” she said.

The potentially large pool of people who could help served as a motivator for DiTommaso.

“Just knowing that there are so many people out there just waiting for someone to be the match for them to save their life really motivates me,” she said.

And even for someone like Hawtrey, who has already donated once despite the inconveniences that come with the donation, she said she would repeat her donation.

“It was so worth it,” Hawtrey said. “I’d would do it again in a heartbeat.”