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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 27th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 51

Spend 10 minutes, save a life

BY FRANK GONZALES

While saving a life isn’t on most people’s agendas most days, Dignity Health of the Central Coast—which includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center—will be giving local residents just such an opportunity this March.

The medical group is organizing three bone marrow registry drives that will take place on March 6 in Santa Maria, on March 7 in Arroyo Grande, and on March 8 in San Luis Obispo, in the hospitals’ respective cafés. Getting registered in the National Bone Marrow Registry takes 10 minutes and requires only a cheek swab.

The National Bone Marrow Registry is a list of potential bone-marrow donors whose donations save the lives of thousands of people fighting leukemia or lymphoma throughout the world. On the Central Coast, Connie Hughes of Arroyo Grande and Randy Salmon of Nipomo are two of the patients hoping to find donors through these drives.

“Every time a new name is added to the bone marrow registry, the chances increase that a person in need of a transplant will find the match that saves his or her life,” Katherine Guthrie, regional director for Dignity Health Cancer Services, said in a press release. “Currently, of the 6,000 people waiting for a match in the United States alone, only 30 percent will find one in time.

Through events like these, she said, “community members are encouraged to simply step forward, volunteer, and potentially save another’s life.”

Sean Hunt, an oncology program nurse for the Marian Cancer Care Services and an organizer of the registry drive, said, “About 70 percent [of patients] do not have a member of their family that matches them. So they need to go outside of their family to get a match, and that’s where the donor registry comes in.”

He added, “I’m a transplant recipient myself. When you get a transplant, your … survivability and long-term survivability go way up. If you didn’t have the transplant, I’m trying to hold your disease off with either chemotherapy or radiation or a combination of both. I give you the transplant—it’s like pushing the reset button on your bone marrow and you start off brand new again. So that’s the good thing.”

All three drives will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. No reservations are required to register, but potential donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44. Marian Regional Medical Center is at 1400 E. Church St. in Santa Maria, French Hospital Medical Center is at 1911 Johnson Ave. in San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital is at 345 Halcyon Road in Arroyo Grande.

For more information, call Dignity Health of the Central Coast Cancer Services at 219-4673.

Intern Frank Gonzales compiled this week’s Community Corner. Send comments or ideas to the Sun via e-mail at intern@santamariasun.com.