Bone marrow recipient helps others register to be donors

You have a chance to save a life. All you have to do is swing by Southern Illinois University Carbondale Wednesday and register to be a bone marrow donor. 

"It’s very important, and people don’t really realize what it does for others," said SIUC adviser Robert Broomfield.

Broomfield helps out at events like the bone marrow registry event that began Tuesday and continues Wednesday at the SIUC student center. He helps out because it’s personal. He needed a bone marrow donation himself when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few years back.

"They tested my brothers, because a lot of family members can be donors. And my brothers weren’t a match, so they had to do testing from Be the Match, off the list," Broomfield said. He said a donor ended up flying in from Germany to help —that’s how hard it can be to find a match.

Now, he and other volunteers and students help register others, just in case they can help make that match.

"Mr. Broomfield, he’s my adviser, so this was a big deal to come and support him," said Alison Brettnacher, a junior at SIU Carbondale.

It takes just 20 minutes to register to be a bone marrow donor, but it could help save a life. With a steady stream of people coming in to fill out the forms and swab their cheeks Tuesday, the groups hopes to add plenty of new donors to Be the Match by the end of the day.

"I am not, but I plan to be at the end of the day," Brettnacher said, hoping to register herself to be a donor.

It’s a gift from a stranger that Broomfield’s never forgotten.

"You know, I said thanks as much as I could in the first letter. But now I need to say thanks again, because it’s been four years and I’m doing well," he said.

If you want to help, you could potentially save someone’s life with just a swab of your cheek.

The bone marrow registry drive at SIU Carbondale will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, at the north end of the student center. You must be 18 to 44 years old to take part. Registration takes around 15 minutes and requires a cheek swab.

Matches are based on DNA, not blood type. 

To find out more about Be the match, click here.

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