Whitties ‘Give a Spit’ to National Bone Marrow Registry

Jacqueline Rees-Mikula

This Monday, Jan. 21, students lined up in Reid Campus Center to donate their time and spit to the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Tina Welsh '15 swabs her cheek while Rachael Barton '15 and Shannon Blair '15 speak with potential donors.
Tina Welsh ’15 swabs her cheek while Rachael Barton ’15 and Shannon Blair ’15 speak with potential donors.  Photos by Marlena Sloss.

Sophomores Rachael Barton and Shannon Blair organized “Give a Spit,” a campaign to encourage Whitman students to sign up for the national registry.

“I feel like if I’m a healthy person and if I could help another person who needs my help, why shouldn’t I do that?” said sophomore Marci Parra, who volunteered for the registry.

Barton was motivated to start the drive since she has personal connections to the national registry.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma in her 90s. Against all odds, she’s still thriving at 100 years old,” said Barton.

Barton '15 shows Sam Crosby '16 how to complete the swab tests.
Barton ’15 shows Sam Crosby ’16 how to complete the swab tests.

Barton also took inspiration from dosomething.org, a nonprofit organization that aims to motivate youth to take action on social issues through national campaigns and grants.

“I saw this campaign and realized I could both bring awareness to campus and help the cause,” Barton said.

According to Blair, she and Barton have been organizing the campaign since last Thanksgiving break.

“There’s a lot of people who obviously need help,” said Blair.

Caroline Rensel swabs her cheek.
Caroline Rensel ’15 swabs her cheek.

The entire registration process took less then 10 seconds; volunteers brushed the inside of their cheeks with cotton swabs for cell samples and submitted their contact information.

Samples from donors are kept on file as potential matches for patients with leukemia or lymphoma. If the registry finds a volunteer whose sample provides a perfect match, they contact the person and request a blood plasma or bone marrow donation.

Sam Crosby '16 places his completed swab tests into a card for testing.
Sam Crosby ’16 places his completed swab tests into a card for testing.

Volunteers who donate offer support for patients which, according to pamphlets handed out at the event, may mean the difference between life and death. Volunteers who stay healthy remain on the registry until they pass the age of 60.

“I believe that if I have the ability to present this opportunity to others, then I have a responsibility to,” Barton said.

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Alex Schnabel '15
Alex Schnabel ’15