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Iceman marrow drive starts Jan. 9

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The clinic laboratory will be conducting a bone marrow drive to support the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program rom 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Jan. 9.

In the past, registration included a blood draw, but with technological advances, only a cheek swab will be necessary. Bone marrow is not actually collected unless the potential donor is a match for a patient in need of a transplant. Registration is a one-time process, so if you have registered in the past, you are still in the database.

The program is named for Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who supported the development of the National Marrow Donor Program in the late 80s.

The primary objective of this program is to provide life-saving marrow transplants to casualties resulting from radiation or chemical agents containing mustard that damage bone marrow. With consent, registrants are also made available to the NMDP database.

Donors must be 18-60 years old and in good health. Registration is free and open to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve personnel as well as dependants, retirees, and civilian employees.

If a person is found to be a preliminary match, they are contacted by the program. Further compatibility testing is done locally involving a few tubes of blood.

Once identified as a match and the potential donor agrees to donate, they are sent on permissive TDY (with commander's approval) to either Georgetown University Hospital in DC, University of Maryland Greenbaum Medical Center in Baltimore or the Fairfax Pathology Associates in Fairfax, Va., for a physical and the marrow extraction is from the iliac crest (pelvic bone) near the lower back. This is done with a special needle and is conducted under anesthesia.

An overnight hospital stay is necessary and donors recover very quickly. Each year, about 300 DoD volunteers provide marrow that may save the life of a stranger.

The base POC for the drive is Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Mitchell at 377-6620. You may contact her for further information, or visit the C.W. Bill Young DoD Donor Program Web site for detailed information and DoD press releases at http://www.dodmarrow.com.