Monthly event invites students, employees to donate blood, marrow

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South Texas Blood & Tissue Center visits campus Oct. 26-27.

By Cassi Armstrong

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

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Every month the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center’s blood donating-caravan chugs along from campus to campus on a mission to save lives.

The mobile blood bank will visit this college again 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 26-27 in the mall.

Michelle Stout, donor recruiter, says 30 percent of donations for the center come from college campuses. The mobile bank receives around 30 students per day to donate blood, but Stout says they are hoping to increase these numbers.

Stout staffed the last mobile bank at this college Sept. 1. By mid-afternoon, the caravan had a few more hours to hit its expected number of students.

“We are on number 17 now,” Stout said.

Jason Cox, a volunteer for the Sept. 1 event, said just one donation can make a huge difference.

‘With every donation you are saving up to three lives per unit of blood,” he said.

That day’s event included a portable table with stack of forms to fill out, as well as information pamphlets, along with black T-shirts with “Marrow Me?” in white letters.

The center also encourages donating blood marrow.

Bone marrow transplants are vital to people suffering from leukemia or other types of blood diseases.

Unlike blood donation, bone marrow has to be matched down to an almost identical ethnicity.

This is determined by human leukocyte antigen also known as HLA, a protein found in the body determines the match.

More multiethnic people are needed to donate their marrow.

“It is really difficult to find a match for marrow if you are multiethnic,” Cox said.

This is because there are fewer people who match each of the different ethnicities that a specific person may have. That is why most people suffering from diseases look first within their families.

Cox and Stout say donating marrow isn’t as invasive as it seems.

“People say, ‘Don’t they give you a spinal tap when you donate marrow?’” Cox said.

Actually 80 percent of the population can donate without undergoing any type of surgery.

“You are in there for two hours; you can watch ‘Titanic’ and be out of there.” Cox said.

Stout says prospective marrow donors must be between the ages 18 and 44, willing to donate, meet health guidelines and keep their contact info updated.

Updating contact information is important because the donation center must be able to contact the donor when a match is found.

There are two ways to donate marrow. A general anesthesia is required for 20 percent of donors, and that is where donating is more difficult. The other 80 percent is done through PBSC, a non-surgical procedure that has little or no side effect.

PBSC stands for peripheral blood stem cell, according to bethematch.org.

Side effects from PBSC marrow donation may include soreness and aches at the injection site.

“As long as you eat before and stay hydrated, there should be no problems.” Stout said.

The mobile bank visits this college once a month, in two-day stretches from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center at 210-731-5555.

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