C.W. Bill Young DoD Bone Marrow Sample Drive at Spring Fest 2017

by .
U.S. Army

The U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan Spring Festival 2017 is a time to celebrate the end of cold weather and welcome outdoor activities. This year, it also a time to help those in need through the C.W. Bill Young DoD Bone Marrow Sample Drive. Look for volunteers at the festival taking cheek swab samples from dedicated individuals who would like to help someone in need of a bone marrow transplant.

The bone marrow drive is seeking dedicated participation, not maximum participation. According to the Institute for Justice, a significant number of those on the national bone marrow registry cannot be located or will not donate when asked to do so. The percentages of donors who are available and willing are: 65 for Caucasians; 47 percent for Hispanics; 44 percent for Asians and 34 percent for African-Americans.

Some other bone marrow statistics according to the Institute for Justice:

• This year, more than 130,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a serious blood disease.
• Leukemia (a blood cancer) will strike 44,000 Americans this year, including 3,500 children. It will kill about half of the adults and about 700 of the children.
• Only 30 percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant have a matching donor in their families.
• The remaining 70 percent must hope that a compatible stranger can be found using the national registry.
• At any given time, about 7,500 Americans are actively searching the national registry for an unrelated donor. At least 3,000 people die each year because they cannot find a matching donor.
• Only 2 percent of population is on the national registry.
• African-American patients find an unrelated donor 25 percent of the time. There is an 80 percent chance that the identified donor is the only match on the registry.
• Asian patients find a donor about 40 percent of the time.
• Hispanic patients find a donor about 45 percent of the time.
• Caucasian patients find a donor about 75 percent of the time.
• Multi-racial people face the worst odds.
• Donating bone marrow is safe: More than 35,000 people have donated bone marrow to a stranger without a single donor death.

For more info about the bone marrow drive, contact Capt. Kate Taylor at Katherine.taylor@socom.mil, or visit https://www.salutetolife.org/index.html. Volunteers will be at Soccer Field #12 April 22 during Spring Fest.

In Korea, the Korean Network for Organ Sharing is an institution that administrates bone marrow donations. Healthy people aged between 18 and 40 can sign up for the donation process via five approved institution. The process is more complicated in Korea, however, using blood samples instead of check swabs. Between 2011 and 2016, 113,934 Korea citizens entered the donor pool and a total of 549 transplantations were conducted.

Bone marrow is the flexible tissue in the interior of bones. Bone marrow serves two important functions for the body. One is to produce red blood cells, and the other is to produce lymphocytes, which are known to support immune system.

The C.W. Bill Young DoD Bone Marrow Sample Drive is open to members of the U.S. military, Reserve, Coast Guard, National Guard, military dependents and DoD civilian employees between 18 and 60 years old. Volunteers must be in good health and will have to fill out paperwork before submitting a cheek swab. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes. The sample is then added to the DoD Registry and the National Registry. When a good match is found, the DoD Donor Program reaches out to the volunteer. The Command issues permissive TDY/TAD orders at no cost to the donor or branch of service. The Program covers all donation-related expenses.

One of the testimonials of the C.W. Bill Young DoD Bone Marrow Sample Drive involves a second lieutenant named Eric Bauer who successfully completed bone marrow transplantation in 2012, saving the life of a stranger. He had provided a cheek swab in 2005 while a sergeant at the Defense Language Institute and was called seven years later to save a leukemia patient's life. He had less than two months to complete a battery of examinations before the actual transplant far away from his home.

The exams were often painful, and Bauer was anxious about the process and recovery. He was anesthetized when his bone marrow was harvested but experienced severe pain after, prolonging his hospital stay. Despite the logistical and physical challenges of the procedure, he felt grateful to have been able to give another person a second chance at life. The bone marrow recipient could have died had it not been for Bauer's sacrifice.

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