How 21 People Could Meet Their Perfect Match

Are we talking about true love? The soul mate you have yearned for? Heck no! We are talking about the kind of match who directly and single-handedly saves someone’s life. Our medical assistant program students and staff recently held our first ever Be the Match donor drive at Globe University-Green Bay, and it produced exceptional results!

The Bone Marrow Donor Mission

Our medical assistant program students and staff set out on a mission to educate, raise awareness, and host the event on campus. To say that is was successful would not accurately capture the energy, enthusiasm and awesome results this group achieved, so we will take you through a more personalized journey of the event.

Medical assistant students began working on this volunteer project in the beginning of the winter quarter. Students visited other classes on campus and provided informational presentations, which helped educate others and improve the students’ speaking and presentation skills. While volunteering makes the heart feel great, learning and practicing professional speaking is also a valuable asset for the students’ future careers.

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Medical Assistant Students Helping with the Be the Match Event

What is a bone marrow transplant?

“Healthy marrow and blood cells are needed to live. When disease affects marrow so that it cannot function properly, a marrow or cord blood transplant could be the best treatment option, and for some patients, offers the only potential cure.

A bone marrow transplant takes a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells and puts them into the patient’s bloodstream, where they begin to grow and make healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.”—From the Be the Match website

We sat down with our Be the Match Recruitment Specialist, Kelli VanderWielen, to ask her a couple more questions.

Is the bone marrow donation process going to hurt?

A lot of people think it’s going to be very painful, especially when they see the needle that is used. In reality, every donor is under general anesthesia and after they wake up from that, most of our donors say they feel like they slipped on ice. It’s tender and sore, but that type of donation is only done about 26 percent of the time.

What can I learn about my match?

We can tell our donors the age, sex and disease of the person they will be donating for.

As long as the recipient and the donor agree, they can meet for the very first time a year after the transplant. It’s incredible. I’ve been at a few of those first time meetings between the donor and recipient, and without the donor, they wouldn’t be alive.

Catching up With the Donors

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Medical assistant student, Bobbie Behnke, swabs her cheek

I got the opportunity to chat with two of the donors who were filling out paperwork. Both Jennifer Schaefer, a veterinary technician and former instructor for Globe University, and Penny Olson, a vet tech student at Globe University, were very excited about being added to the national bone marrow registry.

Olson shared her reason behind joining. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I didn’t know where to go. And then I had the opportunity to do it here at school. This is for a great cause and you can never know what could happen,” she said.

Amazing Results

Christina Palomo, one of the medical assistant students involved with this project, said “The whole thing was really fun and brought our group together for a great cause. I was really glad I did it and we accomplished so much.”

Palomo summarized the project very well as they brought in a total of 21 donors who registered for the bone marrow registry, sent home 12 donor kits and raised over $400 for Be the Match. With an original goal of 10 donors, I would say the medical assistant program students have much to be proud of!