Minority bone marrow donors needed, Zeta Phi Beta Inc. says

Ryan Wilkinson

It only takes a little pain in the back to save a life.

That was the message Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. was trying to get across during last night’s forum about bone marrow donation. The sorority hosted the event in order to draw attention to the lack of African American donors in the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Bone marrow is a blood-like liquid contained within the bones of the body. Bone marrow transplants are used to save the lives of those affected by different forms of cancer, most notably leukemia.

Giving bone marrow requires the donor to undergo a simple outpatient procedure where the marrow is extracted from the pelvis through the back. According to a video from the National Bone Marrow Registry, no stitches are necessary and a Band-Aid will cover the extraction point.

“It isn’t like you are giving a heart or a lung: In two weeks your body won’t even know anything was missing,” said Queen Williams, who lost her son four-and-a-half years ago when a donor-match could not be found. “But you saved someone’s life.”

Zeta Phi Beta said they are always looking to find charities and causes that other organizations overlook.

“A lot of people focus on things like HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, but we wanted to focus on something different,” said D’Onna Stubblefield, vice president of Zeta Phi Beta. “African Americans account for a lot of the deaths that come when people can’t find bone marrow donors – and most of us don’t even know it.”

About 23 percent of the six million registered donors represent minorities.

“I stand here tonight without a donor match,” said Rachel Taylor, a participant in the forum. “But in a few years, if we can get the word out, maybe I can have one.”

Treatment has kept Taylor’s leukemia under control, but a transplant may be necessary later in her life.

“We are just really trying to get people involved,” said Stephanie Boyd, treasurer of Zeta Phi Beta. “It is such an important thing.”

Zeta Phi Beta is holding a drive for the National Bone Marrow Registry from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m March 15 at the Student Center.

Contact ROTC and Greek life reporter Ryan Wilkinson at [email protected].