Hillel at Ohio University swabbed about 750 individuals last Tuesday at the "Got Swabbed?" bone marrow drive.
Photographer: Ben Siegel
Hillel and Gift of Life strive to increase the National Marrow Registry's numbers as well as its diversity in hopes of increasing matches.
Photographer: Ben Siegel
Tuesday marked the first time Hillel has swabbed at an athletic event, allowing for more community and student participation.
Photographer: Wayne Thomas
Feb 21, 2012
By Tessa Dufresne
A simple swab can save a life, and Ohio University students, faculty and staff are joining the University's Jewish student organization, Hillel, in an effort to save more than just one.
Hillel swabbed about 750 individuals last Tuesday at the "Got Swabbed?" bone marrow drive. The initial test for potential bone marrow donors was a quick and easy way to stock the National Marrow Registry, with the hope of identifying matches for patients in need of bone marrow transplants.
"I might be someone's only chance to stay alive. It's really good that people are realizing that and getting swabbed," said Undergraduate Admissions Adviser David Johnson, who swabbed in support of a friend battling leukemia.
In the four years Hillel has partnered with Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, a non-profit public donor registry, the organization has collected more than 4,500 swabs and identified 10 bone marrow donor matches. Freshman Hillel member and representative for the "Got Swabbed?" campaign Henry Kessler said calls to potential donors continue to be made each day.
Registering as a potential donor entails a one-page form and two 10-second cheek swabs. The process can potentially save the life of a child or young adult affected by nonfunctioning bone marrow caused by leukemia, lymphoma, other cancers and genetic diseases.
Because tissue type is inherited, matched patients and donors usually come from the same ethnic and racial backgrounds. Hillel and Gift of Life strive to increase the registry's numbers as well as its diversity in hopes of increasing matches.
OHIO's first "Got Swabbed?" campaign took place in 2009 after three Hillel students presented Gift of Life's mission to Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, executive director of Hillel at Ohio University, and OHIO's chapter of Alpha Phi Omega.
Hillel at Ohio University is nationally recognized for creating the largest bone marrow bank. The organization currently appears in the Guinness World Book of Records for swabbing 2,400 people in its 2009 drive – the most bone marrow registrants to be collected in one day.
Individuals can only be swabbed once, making it difficult for Hillel to set a second record. However, with new students coming into the University each year, Hillel members are not worried.
"There's a whole new field of people we can reach out to," Kessler said.
Tuesday's campaign took place in Baker Center and the Convocation Center during the OHIO-Bowling Green basketball game. This marked the first time Hillel swabbed at an athletic event, and Hillel said the large audience allowed more community and student participation.
Greek Life and LINKS, a multicultural peer mentoring program, collaborated with Hillel, offering volunteers for the swabbing stations.
"Ohio University is the number one in the country for swabs, and I want to help keep that consistency and even expand it more," said student volunteer Ivan Velez, a sophomore communication studies major and LINKS member.
Leshaw said numbers fell short of Hillel's goal of 2,000 swabs.
"But we’re not at all disappointed with our results. We feel confident that we’ll swab an additional 1,000 people by the end of winter quarter," she said.
Although Hillel continues to set quantitative goals for swabs, Kessler said the overall goal is to raise awareness about the importance of saving lives through bone marrow donation.
In the coming weeks, Hillel will be holding smaller swabbing events throughout campus. For more information, please visit www.ohiohillel.org.