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News Release

October 9, 2013

Hillel at Ohio University runs most successful college donor registration campaign Got Swabbed? campaign registers over 7,000 bone marrow donors 

One thing is certain - Ohio University Bobcats are passionate people. Be them students, faculty or staff, the University family knows how to get behind a good cause. Such is the case with Got Swabbed?, a bone marrow donor drive sponsored by the Jewish student organization, Hillel.

Started in 2009 by a student hoping to find a donor for a childhood friend, the Got Swabbed? campaign at OHIO has registered over 7,000 donors in the past four years, the most of any college in the country, according to the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. 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. 

“Here, at Ohio University, Hillel’s Got Swabbed? Campaign is part of the very fabric of campus,” says Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, executive director of Hillel at Ohio University. “We’re so incredibly proud of the thousands of Bobcats who’ve chosen to swab and potentially save a life.” 

Leshaw said another drive is scheduled next week, on Oct. 15., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Baker University Center, third floor atrium. Registering as a potential donor entails a one-page form and two 10-second check swabs. The process can potentially save the life of someone affected by nonfunctioning bone marrow caused by leukemia, lymphoma, other cancers and genetic diseases. Since 2009, 26 OHIO donors have been identified as matches, saving 26 lives across the globe.  

One life saved through donor registration efforts like the Got Swabbed? campaign is that of OHIO student Haden DeRoberts, a sophomore from the Columbus area who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. 

“I was 19 when I was diagnosed with a form of leukemia that left me unable to fight common infections,” he said. “My youth, my energy, my health and my life were all things that until this point I had simply taken for granted… then shock followed by panic, followed by confusion, followed by despair.” 

DeRoberts would undergo many procedures and spent countless days in the hospital for nearly a year before receiving the call that a donor match had been found. A bone marrow transplant saved his young life – and he is dedicated to helping save other lives by publicly telling his story and encouraging others to register as donors. 

“At this point my donor currently remains anonymous, though to meet that person would be a true honor,” DeRoberts said. “I am eternally grateful to them. The gift that they chose to give me is the most selfless that I have ever received and undoubtedly ever receive. Its magnitude cannot be measured, and more amazingly, we are all capable of providing this gift to someone in need. Anyone could be a match and be a miracle for someone like me.” 

To learn more about Hillel and the Got Swabbed? campaign, please visit:  

Sidebar - See Haden's story -

In recent weeks DeRoberts has become the official face of Hillel at Ohio University's Got Swabbed? campaign thanks to an inspiring videocreated by his roommate, OHIO alum Alex Murray.

Over the past week the video has gained internet traction and national attention for Deroberts' inspiring story, which includes an unexpected reunion at the Bonnaroo Music Festival last summer. In the video, DeRoberts is visited in his hospital room just prior to his bone marrow transplant by the California-based indie folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. A year later, lead singer Alex Ebert, walks through the Bonnaroo audience randomly talking to fans, one of which is DeRoberts. Overcome with emotion when he realizes who the fan is, Ebert pulls him from the audience to the stage to tell his story.

Listen to Haden's story and watch the emotional reunion here:

Contact: Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, Executive Director, Hillel at Ohio University at 740-592-1173 or

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