The University of Texas-Pan American is joining Texas State University-San Marcos (TSU-SM) in raising awareness to students about how they can save a life.
UTPA and TSU-SM are holding a bone marrow donor registration drive for TSU-SM's Kathy Soliz Texas State Radiation Therapy Outreach Program Feb. 27-29 on the Edinburg campus to encourage more students to become donors.
Those who register will be included in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). The NMDP's "Be the Match" Foundation will provide buccal swab kits and other materials for the volunteers to use for the marrow donor registration.
"What we're trying to accomplish is to get as many students to register and increase registration overall," said Eddie Quintanilla, health education coordinator III at UTPA.
The Kathy Soliz Texas State Radiation Therapy Outreach Program targets the Hispanic and African-American populations for marrow registration on college campuses in order to increase the chances of finding a match. The odds for finding a match per ethnicity are one in 300,000 for whites and one in 600,000 for African Americans and Hispanics. UT Pan American's undergraduate student body is 89.3 percent Hispanic. Texas native Kathy Soliz battled leukemia for 11 years and died at 23 years old because she could not find a match.
UTPA will host 30 TSU-SM students and faculty members at UT Pan American for the campus-wide donor drive and will participate in registering students, Quintanilla said. Seven registration sites will be set up on campus from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 and Tuesday, Feb. 28 and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29. Signing up for the registry is free.
Drives like the one to be held at UTPA are important because there is a great need for marrow donors. Most marrow donations come from people not related to patients.
Only about 30 percent of patients with diseases treatable with adult cell transplantation can find a suitably matched donor among their family members. The remaining 70 percent require an unrelated adult cell donor as a transplant source, according to the NMDP. The registry's success, therefore, depends on a large number of volunteer donors.
The Kathy Soliz Texas State Radiation Therapy Outreach Program will continue to hold a weeklong bone marrow drive annually targeting minority populations on college campuses throughout Texas. The program will work collaboratively with the nonprofit Texas State Cancer Advocacy Movement for Colleges and Outreach (CAMCO), led by CAMCO chair Lawrence E. Estaville, professor in the department of geography at TSU-SM.
Quintanilla said UTPA student organizations are encouraged to participate in the donor registration drive. Anyone interested can contact him at (956) 665-3165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.