Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

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Students fill out application forms before being swabbed

Photo courtesy of: Hillel at Ohio University


Students show off their "Got Swabbed" T-shirts

Photo courtesy of: Hillel at Ohio University

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Hillel bone marrow drive receives boost from Health 2020 class

Hillel at Ohio University, a Jewish student organization, received a boost in their "Got Swabbed," bone marrow drive this month. The Health 2020 class joined the organization's mission after a group of 12 students chose the campaign as part of a two-week, service-learning assignment.

The students assist in registering and swabbing potential bone marrow donors. It takes 1,000 swabs to find a perfect match. A perfect match is subject to ethnicity. The process saves the lives of those affected by leukemia, lymphoma, other cancers and genetic diseases.

"Being an active student at Hillel here at Ohio University, I immediately knew I wanted to propose, "Got Swabbed," for my class' sustainability project," said Emily Krosin, a first-year theater major. "I've never had personal connections with someone who needed a bone marrow transplant, but I'm aware, being a Jewish minority, of how vital and difficult it is to find a match. The more people we can get in the registry, the more matches we can make and potentially save a life."

Potential donors remain in the system until they are 61 years old. Nearly 10,000 students and faculty have been swabbed since the start of the program at OHIO in 2009. The success of the 2009 drive made the Guinness Book of World Records for swabbing 2,400 people, the most bone marrow registrants to be collected in one day. Ohio University leads the nation in campus bone marrow drives.

"We have had astronomical success making matches," said Lauren Goldberg, the assistant director at Hillel. "Partly because we swab so often, and also because 18- to 26-year-olds have the best possible chance for being a good donor."

Hillel swabs three days a week throughout the year. Goldberg says the drive takes a lot of planning, training and organization. Hillel maintains a regular staff member and intern to support the campaign.
Hillel's intern promotes the program through social media and drives the participation of residence halls.

"We have already doubled our goal this year, more than 700 people have been tested since the beginning of fall semester," said Goldberg. "Health 2020 is something we hope for, we have added 12 drives."

Health 2020 is taught by Teena Stambaugh, an RN and adjunct faculty in social and public health. She split her class of 60 students into groups of 12 during the assignment, with each choosing its own service project.

"I have been overwhelmed by the response of, "Got Swabbed," said Stambaugh. "I'm so pleased the way we're teaching this class and hope when students leave here they continue these skills of fund raising into their employment or personal lives."

Stambaugh lost her spouse 33 years ago to Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. At the time, only two places in the United States were doing bone marrow swab testing. Her husband was accepted to John Hopkins' experimental program 10 days before he died.

"Jewish value says to save one life is as if to save the entire world," said Goldberg. "There is a really large disparity in the bone marrow registry, people of ethnic minorities are underrepresented, a less likelihood for a match. Hillel is trying to rectify the problem."

"Got Swabbed" is Hillel's title for their bone marrow swabbing campaign. Hillel partners with The Gift of Life, one of the nation's public bone marrow registries. The Gift of Life flies perfect bone marrow matches to a donation center, all expenses paid.

"Nothing sounds more rewarding than contributing everything I can to make a difference, not only on this campus, but in the gift of someone's life," said Krosin. "So far, each group's drives are extremely successful and above and beyond my expectations. I'm really proud of what the class is putting into the project and I'm excited to see the final outcome."

Hillel at Ohio University serves the campus community in Jewish culture, education, history, social service, Israel advocacy, and communal experiences. It is located at 21 Mill Street in Athens, Ohio.