BELPRE - Several area businesses have joined forces to help those with diseases aided by bone marrow transplants by hosting a match event at three separate locations.
The Marietta Times, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, Pioneer Chevrolet and Family Ford along with the Memorial Health System, Peoples Bank, WMOA and Clear Channel will join forces for the Be the Match Swab-a-Thon.
The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 30 at Pioneer Chevrolet, the Peoples Bank location on Putnam Street in Marietta and the Marietta Memorial Hospital Belpre Campus Strecker Cancer Center lobby.
"This started with a personal experience of a close friend needing a bone marrow transplant," said Barbara Norris-Sanford, sister of Dick Norris, owner of Pioneer Chevrolet and Family Ford. "This personal experience has driven us to the cause, and we wanted to act locally."
Those who show up to the event will have the inside of their cheeks swabbed with a cotton swab and their medical information put in the bone marrow match registry to potentially benefit people with life- threatening blood cancers.
"There are 73 different diseases to be helped with a bone marrow transplant and 10,000 to 11,000 people across the country actively looking for a match," said Marshall Brown, account executive for Be the Match, the national bone marrow program.
Cortney Beymer with the Strecker Cancer Center at Marietta Memorial Hospital said there are many patients locally "desperately looking" for a positive bone marrow match.
Brown said the biggest issue facing those needing a bone marrow transplant is only one in three patients will match a family member.
"The rest of those seeking a transplant will need to find an unrelated match within the registry," he said. "That doesn't sound like a lot until you realize that it's less than half of all cases."
Brown also pointed out that donating for bone marrow transplants is not as painful or difficult as it once was.
"About 80 percent of the time, people are asked to give stem cells instead of marrow, which is a process very similar to donating blood," he said. That means the other 20 percent of the time, marrow from the pelvis is necessary.
Those who are considering joining the drive are reminded they must be committed to donating bone marrow, Brown said.
"Donors must be committed to be somebody's cure," he said. "If you are part of the registry and get a call, it means you are somebody's hope to survive."
"One person can save a life by being part of this swab-a-thon," Beymer added.