USC employee leads bone marrow drive
Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm in News
Elizabeth Jordan saved a life, and now she is looking to save hundreds more.
When Jordan â now coordinator of on-campus programs at USCâs Career Planning & Placement Center â first decided to join the bone marrow registry in 2002, she was told she wasnât a match at that time and she soon forgot about the registry altogether.
But five years later, Jordan was contacted by the City of Hope cancer center and told she was a possible match for a woman with acute myeloid leukemia. Jordan decided to donate. One year later, she met the woman who had received her marrow, Rhonda Christensen, and was immediately welcomed into the family.
âI could tell she was a caring, kind person,â Christensen said. âWithout Elizabeth, I wouldnât be here. Sheâs a part of the family; itâs like we adopted her.â
Now, the two are a hosting a bone marrow drive at USC, hoping to save more lives and spark more lifelong relationships. The drive which will take place on Trousdale Parkway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday near Tommy Trojan.
Christensen has hosted drives twice before, but for Jordan, this is her first. She said she is excited to bring a bone marrow drive to USC.
âItâs my new passion, educating everyone,â Jordan said. âParticularly college students. Itâs been the greatest gift Iâve ever given or received. Itâs been so magical, and I want people to know that.â
Though Jordanâs case is rare â donors and their recipients seldom meet, and almost never do they become as close as Jordan and Christensen â Jordan can think of many other reasons students should participate in the drive.
Jordan stressed not only the simplicity of joining the registry, but of the entire donation process. By filling out a simple health questionnaire and having their cheek swabbed, people can join the bone marrow registry, which is all that will be done at USCâs drive this Friday.
Donors must be 18 to 60 years old and in generally good health with plans on remaining committed to being in the registry. After the swab, potential donors are entered into a database that searches for possible genetic matches, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few decades.
âWith the advances in technology, itâs as easy as having an IV in one arm and the other,â said Pablo Ortiz De Urbina, a senior majoring in music performance and a volunteer for this weekâs drive. âIt takes so little of your time; itâs three hours that saves a life.â
Jordan said she is concerned potential donors may be scared away by the myths associated with bone marrow transplants, since many people believe the procedure is more painful than it is. According to the National Marrow Donor Programâs website, one form of donating marrow uses anesthesia, however, so the donor feels nothing. The other form is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that is as easy as donating blood. Pieces of bone are not removed and though there may be a short recovery time, there are rarely any long-term effects from donating.
âTalking to Rhonda and hearing from a recipientâs point of view, talking to someone whoâs been so brave, who has survived such an ordeal, just to hear it, itâs really powerful,â Jordan said.
She also encourages people of different ethnicities to join the bone marrow registry. Of the patients who have received transplants, an overwhelming majority are white. Because close genetic matches are needed, itâs important that all people, especially people who are black, Hispanic or Asian, join the registry.
The drive will be sponsored by Be the Match, City of Hopeâs national marrow donor program. A Facebook group named âJoin the Marrow Registry at USCâ has also been created to promote the event.