Student organizations host Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive, April 22
When MSOE nursing student Amberley Kowalski was diagnosed with cancer and learned she needed a donor for her stem cell transplant – the odds that one of her siblings would be a match were one in four. “They told me not to worry though, that I would find a match in the Donor Registry,” Kowalski said.
Kowalski was beyond surprised when all but one of her seven younger siblings was a match and she would have her pick of the donors. She ultimately selected her 6 foot tall, 22-year-old brother who was in perfect health. In four hours they collected enough cells for five transplants.
“I was unlucky in a lot of ways, but this time I got lucky,” Kowalski said.
MSOE students have the opportunity to be someone else’s good luck on Friday, April 22, when students can join the national bone marrow donor registry. The Student Nurses Association, Women’s Softball Team and Lambda Zeta Nu are sponsoring the Be The Match drive, which will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Campus Center.
Operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), Be The Match has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world for 25 years. Thousands of patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other life-threatening diseases depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated bone marrow donor to save their lives. One of these donors is MSOE biomedical engineering major Zachary Polak. Polak signed up during last year’s Marrow Registry Drive.
“My girlfriend Shannon had asked me to sign up,” he said. “I figured why not seeing as how the best case scenario I could try and help to save a life…and that’s exactly what happened. Not even 2 months later I was a match for a 13-year-old girl with leukemia.” Polak donated his bone marrow on Aug. 5, 2015.
“The entire experience was life-changing for me and I would do it all over again if needed,” he said. “To be able to give this girl a chance to have a life is the best thing I can possibly think of to do for someone and if I was asked to donate bone marrow again I would do it in a heartbeat.”
For more information about the bone marrow registry, visit bethematch.org.