Bone Marrow Drive for Young Woman Highlights Need for Donors

Delia Gonzalez knows all about discipline and competition as a rider of dressage – a choreographed equestrian style that’s akin to figure skating for horses.

But Gonzalez, who turned 19 this week, is battling a rare blood disorder that no amount of discipline can remedy. She’ll need a bone marrow transplant to counter the effects of aplastic anemia, which occurs when the body stops producing new blood cells.

The women in her dressage group are organizing a registry drive this Sunday, June 3, in an attempt to find a match for Gonzalez and others who need bone marrow transplants.

“Bone marrow transplants are so many people’s last hope,” said Laine Sklar, a 30-year-old attorney who is a member of Agape Dressage. “And because so many of the people with blood diseases are young, donors can really make a huge difference in the lives of others.”

Sklar describes Gonzalez as having “an infectious smile” and said she’s been positive, brave and supportive throughout her ordeal.

The challenge in particular rests in registering more Hispanic donors, since matches in the vast majority of cases align with racial or ethnic background.

Oscar Correa, a spokesman for the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match initiative, said of the 10 million potential donors on the registry, 73 percent are of European descent. “If you’re in that racial group, you have an excellent chance of finding a donor,” he said, adding it’s more challenging for minority patients to find matches.

Part of the dilemma, Correa said, rests in long-lingering perceptions that go something like this: Bone marrow donation is a painful procedure and not something you want to do.

That’s an outdated sentiment, he said, since procedures have changed dramatically.

More than 76 percent of transplants today are non-invasive ones that look more like a platelet donation. And while the other 24 percent still need the actual bone marrow, which is typically extracted from the pelvic bone, the procedure is done under anesthesia and the marrow replaces itself within six weeks.

“What’s the biggest obstacle to getting donors?” Correa asked rhetorically. “People are afraid and they’re not really informed about what it takes to be a donor. A lot of our challenge is in educating the community that it’s really quite easy to save someone else’s life.”

Those interested in helping Gonzalez or other patients in need are invited to come learn more about the national bone marrow donor program at a donor drive Sunday, June 3. The event runs from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at two locations: Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 1300 N. Greasewood Road, and Reid Park’s Ramada 7, which is off of 22nd Street across from the McDonald’s.

A cheek swab will be done of interested donors to be put into the registry. To join, donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60.

Comments

  1. Aaron Martel says:

    I am Hispanic and Scottish where can I go to see if I fit her needs ?

    • Aaron Martel says:

      I am Hispanic and Scottish where can I go to see if I fit her needs ?
      Sorry if I reposted this I wanted to make sure I checked all of the boxes

      • Thanks for your inquiry, Aaron. The bone marrow drive was on Sunday, but for more information, please check out http://www.marrow.org, which is the website for Be the Match, which helps patients in need of bone marrow transplants receive the help they need. You can also call 1-800-MARROW2 (1-800-627-7692.) Thank you again for helping!

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