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Help Beat Leukemia and Lymphoma

Donordrive 1
Left to right: Dustin Wunderlich, Kathleen Noone, and Alex Mele (photo by Sam Levitan)

Bone Marrow Registry Drive: November 5, 7, and 10

Stony Brook University Medical Center will hold a bone marrow registry drive in November with the hope that patients with leukemia or lymphoma in need of a bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant will receive a match. SBUMC is partnering with DKMS Americas–the world’s largest marrow donor center–for bone marrow drive dates on November 5, 7, and 10.

According to the American Cancer Society and DKMS, every five minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, such as a form of leukemia or lymphoma. Every 10 minutes, a blood cancer takes a life. In the United States, leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under age 20. A bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant is often necessary for these patients in order to achieve long-term remission from the disease, particularly when chemotherapy alone is not likely to provide remission.

“By donating bone marrow, one really does have the power to save a life,” said Kathleen Noone, Nurse Manager, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at SBUMC. “Thousands of patients nationwide right now are hoping and waiting for a bone marrow donor who will be a match and make their life-saving transplant possible. Some of these patients live in our area and are treated at Stony Brook.”

The bone marrow drive may help SBUMC patient Alex Mele, a 16-year-old from Coram with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), find the match he needs. Mele has successfully completed several rounds of chemotherapy, but his doctors believe a bone marrow transplant will be necessary for long-term remission.

Dustin Wunderlich, another AML patient treated at SBUMC for AML, has achieved remission and completed his therapy this past summer. Wunderlich, 25, from Nesconset, wants to help those in need of a bone marrow transplant and is starting a foundation, called “Prevail,” to help families of young patients treated for AML and other blood cancers.

Registering as a bone marrow donor is simple, and individuals are contacted if they are a match for a patient in need of a transplant. All information is kept confidential. Each registrant has his/her data entered into the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be the Match Registry.” Physicians nationwide search the registry looking for potential matches.

To register, individuals must be between the ages of 18 and 55 years and meet other eligibility requirements. These requirements include but are not limited to being in good general health, not having a history of cancer, not having a history of severe heart disease, being free of autoimmune disorders, and not having diabetes requiring insulin.

If an individual is identified as a match for a patient, there are two ways to donate, both of which are outpatient procedures. Approximately three-quarters of collections are performed by a peripheral blood stem cell procedure, which involves receiving medication daily for four-to-five days before the collection to increase blood stem cells. Through a needle, the donor’s blood is removed from one arm, passed through a machine that separates the cells used in the transplant, and returned through the other arm. About one-quarter of collections are performed by collecting bone marrow by way of a needle into the pelvic bone where a small amount of marrow is extracted. This is a surgical procedure done under local or general anesthesia.

The three locations for the SBUMC bone marrow registry drive are: Thursday, November 5, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Health Sciences Center, Galleria; Saturday, November 7, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, SBU Cancer Center; and Tuesday, November 10, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Student Activities Center.

For more information about this drive or other bone marrow drives at SBUMC, call HealthConnect at 444-4000.

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