Bone marrow drive looks to diversify

By Miranda Spetaccino

County College of Morris Health Services, along with the Icla da Silva Foundation, are hosting a “Be The Match” Bone Marrow Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Student Center Lobby and Tuesday Feb. 28 in the B Café Alcove area, located across from Cohen Café.

The drive will consist of a registration and a cheek swab, and is open to CCM students, faculty and staff ages 18 to 40.

The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States, with offices throughout the east coast and Puerto Rico, according to their website. Their focus is on deversifying the registry.

“Right now in the registry there are 13 million people and 70 percent is Caucasian,” said Lauren Wollny, a community engagement representative at the foundation. “So that leaves patients that are of any diverse tissue type a very hard time of finding a match. You’re more likely of matching within your same ancestry.”

Joining the Be The Match Registry only takes about five minutes out of the day, and the results could possibly save someone’s life, said Wollny.

“We’re asking people to sign up, fill out a form, and do a cheek swab to potentially donate in the future. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to absolutely donate,” Wollny said. “You only donate when you match someone, which is very rare.”

Once a person joins the national registry, they remain eligible to match with a patient in need right up until the day they turn 61 years old. If matched, they would have a basic health screening over the phone and from there go through a series of tests and exams to determine if they are a patient’s best match.

According to Be The Match’s website, 1 in 40 registry members will be called for additional testing, 1 in 300 will be selected as the best possible donor for a patient, and only about 1 in 430 will actually donate.

Wollny went on to say that a substantial challenge when it comes to drumming up donors is spreading the word about what the bone marrow registry actually is.

To her point, Jeremy Tsonton , a communication major at CCM, said that he is not sure whether he will attend the drive.

“ I don’t know enough about the drive,” Tsonton said.

Tsonton said that maybe if he knew more about the registry, he would attend the drive. He said he would donate if matched with anyone.

“I mean I’m an organ donor so I’m kind of all for that stuff,” Tsonton said.

Maggie Pierce, a humanities and social sciences major at CCM, said that although she was not aware of the drive, she, like Tsonton, would consider joining the registry and subsequently donating bone marrow.

“I always to try help people and make their lives more positive,” Pierce said. “I’ve never really been freaked out about doctors or needles or blood or anything like that, so actually donating wouldn’t be an issue.”

For more information about the drive or about volunteering for the drive, contact Health Services at 973-328-5160, or Lauren Wollny at 973-647-5845 or by email at

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