NHS members challenge community to Be The Match

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By Liz Vos, Staff Writer

ALBANY – Although Kendra Carbert, Emily Johnson and Josie Fourre are not yet old enough to join the Be The Match Registry, they are coming together to encourage others to get informed and involved in a life-saving opportunity. 

As part of Albany High School’s National Honor Society, the three juniors are working diligently to organize two opportunities for the community to potentially save lives through a marrow donor registry drive. 

“The more people that are on it, the better chance there is for a match,” Carbert said of the registry. 

The Be The Match Registry is seeking committed donors who are between the ages of 18 and 44. 

“Even though we are not old enough to register ourselves, it feels good to know that we will be able to do it next year,” said Fourre. 

Being part of the national registry opens an opportunity for donors to save lives. 

According to BeTheMatch.org, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be the best treatment option or the only potential cure for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and many other diseases. As the science of transplant continues to advance, new diseases are being treated with transplants.

How it works

Joining the registry requires a sample of cells, usually collected by swabbing the inside of your cheek. The sample is used to compare specific protein markers, known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA) with HLA markers of patients who need a bone marrow transplant.

Doctors search the registry to find donors with HLA markers that match those of their patients. These searches happen on behalf of patients every day, so the most important thing you can do as a registry member is stay committed. Be The Match stays in contact with registrants over time to check on the status of their donation commitment level and ability. 

When a registry member matches a patient, there are several steps before donating. These steps are meant to ensure donation is safe for both the donor and the patient.

Once approved to donate, the patient’s doctor will request one of two donation methods: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or bone marrow. The patient’s doctor chooses the donation method that’s best for the patient.

Starting a new tradition:

“We are excited to be able to start a new project for NHS,” said Carbert of the registry drives. 

The NHS completes numerous service projects each year, many of which are done annually. The organization’s advisor, Melanie Thompson, heard about the Be The Match Registry opportunity while at an NHS conference and passed the idea on to the students, who embraced it. 

“It’s a really good way to get people involved in helping others,” noted Johnson. “This is something they maybe had not considered before.” 

Two dates are in place for the registry, Friday, Feb. 19 and Monday, Feb. 22 from 4-8 p.m. in the Albany High School commons area. Both opportunities are being held during home basketball games. 

Prospective donors are encouraged to become educated about Be The Match prior to the event, although information will also be available on site. To find out further details on what joining the registry can do, visit BeTheMatch.org. Be The Match will cover the registration fee ($100) for those joining the registry at these events. 

Signing up will consist of four stations at the high school including an information station and survey to make sure donors are committed; registration booth; a barcoding station to connect a registry applicant’s information with their results. The final station involves the testing, during which applicants swab the inside of their own mouth/cheeks. 

The entire process of registration will take about 15 minutes, but the impact, the students say, is immeasurable. 

“Being able to make such an impact and provide hope is amazing,” Carbert said. “We hope we can help make a difference.” 

 
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