Students can register as bone marrow donors in a recruitment drive in Red Square next Friday as part of a nationwide initiative to solicit marrow donations from college students by Gift of Life, an international bone marrow registry.
Rajia Arbab (COL ’18), GOL campus ambassador, coordinated the recruitment at Georgetown, which is the first marrow donation drive on campus, with hopes to recruit donors and increase awareness for types of blood cancer.
According to GOL Founder Jay Feinberg, the purpose of the campus ambassador program was specifically to recruit college students to join the bone marrow database.
“The majority of donors who are requested by transplant centers are between the ages of 18 and 25, making the university setting the best possible place to host education sessions and donor recruitment drives,” Feinberg wrote in an email to The Hoya.
In response to this demand, Gift of Life created a network of more than 100 students from campuses across the country to recruit donors.
To register as donors, students fill out their contact information and complete a cheek swab. Once their kits are returned to the GOL office in Boca Raton, Fla., they receive an email to complete the registration process. Each donor test kit incurs a $60 laboratory processing fee, which funds tissue typing and entry into the worldwide donor registry, where a donor’s marrow may be selected for surgical use.
Arbab, who is currently on the pre-med track, said that she chose to apply to GOL as she believed that it was an organization that could change others’ lives.
“A family friend of mine suggested that I get involved with the organization,” Arbab said. “I decided to apply because I believe that when our lives are involved in changing the lives of others, our own lives will be changed for the better.”
As campus ambassador, Arbab works 10 hours per week to increase GOL’s presence on campus. She said that the most rewarding part of her job was being able to spread awareness about GOL and its efforts to save the lives of those suffering from blood cancer and leukemia.
“My objective is to swab as many students as possible this year … knowing that every individual I swab could potentially be the donor that saves a life,” Arbab said.
According to Arbab, registering to be a donor is an effortless process for students.
“Gift of Life will allow Hoyas on campus to potentially be the ones to save the lives of patients suffering from leukemia or blood cancer,” Arbab said. “Sixty seconds is all it takes to join the bone marrow registry and be the person to give another human being the gift of life.”
According to GOL Director of the Campus Ambassador Program Nick Hudson, the benefits of bone marrow donation are rewarding.
“A lot of people sign up to be a bone marrow donor, myself included, without ever knowing, or thinking that they’re going to get called,” Hudson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “You’re told it’s a one in a thousand shot, even if you get called there’s not a great chance you’re the best match. But then, in times like mine, when I got called for a little boy that had leukemia, you never really expect it.”
After the first donation drive next Friday, Arbab plans to host five more donor registration drives in both Georgetown and the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area to swab cheeks and find a match for those suffering from blood cancer and leukemia.
According to Hudson, bone marrow donation is extremely rewarding due to its life-changing nature.
“I think the best part is that you could just be walking through the quad one day, and decide to do something in passing, and it winds up having this unbelievable effect and saving someone’s life. … Your life and someone else’s life can hinge on a split second decision that probably won’t affect you for a really long time,” Hudson said.