UW medical students recruit bone marrow donors for Be the Match

SPOKANE, Wash. - Students with the University of Washington School of Medicine gathered in River Park Square on Saturday, eager to make a change with this year's Be the Match donor drive. 

Each year, approximately 13,000 patients are in need of bone marrow donors. Of those patients, only 60% find their perfect match. 

That's a statistic Be the Match is hoping to improve. 

Saturday was World Marrow Donor Day, a day dedicated to increasing the amount of marrow donors on the national registry. Cue Be the Match, a national marrow donor program. 

Students with UW Medicine and the MEDEX physician assistant program set up shop in downtown Spokane, adding community members to the registry and passing out do-it-yourself cheek swab kits. 

Justin Thompson, a student with the UW Medicine, said there are misconceptions about being a marrow donor. 

"The process of donating can be as simple as a blood draw. It's not always as invasive as we think it is," he said.

It can be done by just doing a blood draw, or other means.

"They can migrate out into the blood and many times we can just collect them that way through a simple blood draw. We give you a medicine the day before that increases those blood counts, and then we're able to collect them out and isolate them and give them to a recipient," he explained.

According to Jennifer West with UW School of Medicine, the day was part of a Regional Health Partnership between the University of Washington and Gonzaga University, designed to enhance medical education and research in Spokane.  

CLICK HERE to learn more about Be the Match.