MARO spreads awareness of bone marrow registry, donation on campus

Maria Baradzina

More than 130 students have already participated in “Marrow Week,” held by Minorities Awareness Registry Organization.

“This is the time we try to spread awareness of our existence and what we do,” said Chloe Woodhouse, a Wienberg freshman and the incoming MARO president. The group wants more people to register for marrow donation but also to diversify, she said.

Tables are set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Sargent Hall, Foster-Walker Complex and 1835 Hinman on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as in Kellogg on Tuesday and Thursday.

The club tries to register students of different ethnicities to be bone marrow donors since there is a better chance for a match when the donor is of the same ethnicity as the receiver, MARO secretary and Weinberg freshman Yufei Tian explained. MARO does not have as strong a presence on campus as it would like, she said.

“When I saw (MARO) at the student activities fair, I thought it was a great thing to do so I joined,” she continued.

There is a lot of misconception and fear behind marrow donation, Woodhouse said.

“People automatically think ‘big needles in my hip’ when they hear of marrow donation,” Woodhouse said, “but there have been a lot of medical advancements.”

Currently, liquid marrow is only extracted when it is to be used for children, whose bodies receive the marrow better in liquid form, Woodhouse said. In this instance, donors are placed under anesthesia, and the procedure also lasts about one or two days and donors walk away with some soreness in the lower back. Eighty percent of donations, however, are PBSC donations, whereby donors are simply hooked up to a machine that withdraws blood from one arm, extracts stem cells and returns the blood into the other arm. People are usually in and out within a day, Woodhouse said.

She added that registering for marrow donation is very simple. It involves some paperwork and a cheek swab. Registering also does not guarantee a phone call for donation since a 10/10 match of human leukocyte antigen markers is needed before a donation can be considered.

During the first marrow drive the group ever did, Woodhouse said, they registered a student who four months later received a phone call about being a match. “Today, somebody is alive because of him,” Tian said.

Japan Club, Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, NCA-The Student-Alumni Partnership, Northwestern Alumni Association, Northwestern Hillel, Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Rotaract and Student Blood Services are co-sponsoring the event. “Our co-sponsors have been unbelievably helpful with running the tables. I am overwhelmed by how cooperative and giving people have been,” Woodhouse said.

MARO is hoping to register 300 people by the end of the week.

“We are thankful to each and every person for showing up,” Tian said.

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