Blood disorder patients find perfect match in donor drive

By Linda Nguyen

Staff Writer

The Scott & White Healthcare annual Be The Match drive starts Monday and will continue through next Friday.

Be The Match recruiter Stephanie Jardot said the drive will help find bone marrow and stem cell donors for patients with blood disorders.

“What we do is recruiting, which is when we go out and find donors, and we do fundraising because it is a nonprofit and it costs $100 to put a person on the registry,” Jardot said.

Jardot said the drive will be in three locations all week, which are the Baylor Sciences Building, the Bill Daniel Student Center and the McLane Student Life Center.

“In the past, we’d go to two locations, the SUB and BSB, but this time, we’ll be at three,” Jardot said.

Jardot said the process for registering to be a possible donor doesn’t take long.

“If they want to come out to register to be a possible donor, they can come and fill out a consent form and take a cheek swab,” Jardot said. “The only time they would be called to donate is if it matches with someone who needs it. We really want to get the awareness out there.”

Jardot said there are already thousands of students at Baylor on the national registry to donate.

“This will be my fourth year with the program and when I got to the program, they had done many drives before,” Jardot said. “We’ve got thousands of students on the registry and we’ve had several students donate.”

Jardot said there are two ways students can donate. “The most common way is through stem cells,” Jardot said. “It’s like donating plasma.”

Jardot said they draw blood out of one arm and run it through a machine that draws out the stem cells and returns everything else: the red blood cells, platelets, plasma back into the body.

“The other way to donate is bone marrow,” Jardot said. “They’ll extract marrow from your lower hip bone. The next day you’ll feel a little sore but it’s not painful like everyone may think. It doesn’t hurt.”

Ellensburg, Wash., sophomore Dillon Gasper has donated through the Be The Match registry before and said it is meaningful to him. “I signed up for the registry when I was at a race here in Waco called the Miracle Match,” Gasper said. “They had a station there and all I had to do was sign a consent form and take a cheek swab.”

Gasper said he was excited when he was called as a potential donor.

“I had to get more tests and they called me back and told me I was a primary donor and I was ecstatic. There are 10 million people on the registry and I was the one person picked,” Gasper said.

Gasper said he donated stem cells.

He said the experience was painless and a good thing to do.

“Six days before I was supposed to donate, they gave me a drug that would make my body produce more stem cells,” Gasper said. “They hooked both my arms up to a machine called an apheresis, which is the same machine they use when you give double red cells in blood donation. Blood comes out of one arm and the machine filters out everything except the stem cells and puts it back into your body through your other arm.”

Gasper said, although he’s never met the recipient of his stem cells due to privacy regulations, it was a meaningful opportunity for him. “I think it’s a neat opportunity to be able to potentially save someone’s life and impact their life in a meaningful way,” Gasper said. “It didn’t cost anything from me. They took something that I didn’t really need and gave it to someone who needed it to survive. It did not cause me pain but it took away some pain from him.”

Gasper will also be speaking about the Be The Match drive at 3 p.m. on Friday in D109 Baylor Sciences Building.