Saving Lives One Swab at a Time: Mid-Atlantic Region
Members of the Sathya Sai Centers of Jersey City, Flushing, Manhattan and Bridgewater in the Mid-Atlantic Region conducted Bone Marrow Registry Drives in the month of September 2018 to help find a bone marrow donor for a member of the South Asian Community who was diagnosed with leukemia.
The bone marrow drives were conducted for 3-4 hours at the following locations: three branches of the North Bergen Public Library, New Jersey; the Sathya Sai Center of Jersey City, New Jersey; the Sri Venkateswara Temple and Community Center in Bridgewater, New Jersey; the Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Temple in Flushing, New York.
The odds of finding a fully matched donor among South Asians is very low and very challenging. Hence, there is a critical need to raise awareness about this issue in the South Asian community, and to encourage them to sign up to a bone marrow registry. Registration is a very simple one-time process. Registrants fill out a form and provide a swab sample from their mouth. After the paperwork is processed and the swab sample is analyzed, the registrant’s data is entered into a national database. In case of a match, the bone marrow registry will contact the potential donor to confirm they are still interested in donating and proceed accordingly.
The drives were organized in collaboration with DKMS, a bone marrow registry organization based in New York City. DKMS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorder by recruiting bone marrow donors. For this particular bone marrow drive, DKMS provided the necessary training, supplies and paperwork to Sai Center members who had volunteered to take the lead in conducting the drives. Sai Center members also collaborated with the local communities to promote awareness of the bone marrow drives and hence, increase donor participation. For example, the Mayor and County officials of North Bergen, the Department of Health of North Bergen and the local temple committee members all showed their support by helping with outreach and their participation in the events.
A total of 125 registrants from the South Asian Community were recruited at the drives, which could mean potentially saving 125 lives at some point time in the future