Students spearhead bone marrow drive

UNIVERSITY CITY - November 17, 2011

"Right now 4 out of 10 patients who need bone marrow transplants can't find a match," said medical student David Fajgenbaum.

Fajgenbaum co-founded National Students of AMF, named for the initials of his mother Anne Marie Fajgenbaum who lost her fight with brain cancer six years ago. The non-profit not just supports grieving students, but also helps fight back against any illnesses that affected them.

This effort to register bone marrow donors will largely help people suffering from blood cancer. Thanks to medical advances, donating bone marrow in most cases is not as intrusive as it used to be.

"Seventy percent of people giving bone marrow can do it through peripheral IV's that just get stuck in their arms. They don't have to do it through their hip bone. So really the technology has improved. It's not as scary as people think it is," Fajgenbaum told Action News.

A swab of the inside of your cheeks for tissue typing is pretty simple. But organizers are sure to communicate in counseling beforehand not to confuse the ease of the process with how serious this commitment is.

"We don't want patients who get matches to find out, 'Yes, I got a match,' and then not have students follow through and not do their donations," said Fajgenbaum.

Most of the donors here today were connected to the university, but word spread of their effort and drew others who wanted to help.

"It could save somebody's life," said volunteer Gina Wersits of Clarksboro, NJ. "Somebody doesn't have to lose their mother, their daughter or their aunt. It doesn't take that much but it could change the whole world of somebody you don't know."

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