EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Are you a match? That’s the question students at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) were asked Friday. It’s part of a national endeavor to help those suffering from blood cancers find transplants.
Saving a life can be a heroic act. An act that could start with a cheek swab.
“Be the Match is an organization that strives to get people to join their registry to help patients in need of a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant,” explained Krista Ross, the ‘Be the Match Athletic Programs Manager.
Though ESU has been involved for a while, things really ramped up last year.
“We started doing this about five years ago. It was mainly just the football program and we did it in the spring. I reached out to Coach Wilson, our basketball program, our athletic department to see if we could get all twenty-two sports involved,” stated Head Football Coach, Jimmy Terwilliger.
“So we had a huge drive to try to get the entire athletic department together. All the coaches were very willing to get their teams to volunteer for the event. We were able to register 498 registrants last year,” added Jeff Wilson, the Men’s Basketball Coach.
They hold this program to honor two ESU athletes who passed away. Ryan Smith and Alyssa Oxenford.
“They were courageous in every way that they can. If we can do something to honor their memory, at the same time try to build for others and be able to help somebody else and save a life. There’s no greater thing we could do in their memory,” Terwilliger commented.
“My teammate Ryan Smith, he suffered from leukemia. That was a huge loss for us. But this allowed us to have some extra time with him,” explained Marc Rodriguez, men’s basketball player
Registration puts you on the list until you’re 61. The younger the donor, the better the chance of the recipient’s body accepting the transplant.
“It’s a simple cheek swab. You put it on the left and right sides of your mouth. Fill out a couple of fields on your phone and voila, you are a member of the be the match registry,” Ross continued.
Organizers also want to remind everyone that donation itself is often a nearly painless process that is very similar to donating blood.
If you’re interested in registering to donate marrow or blood stem cells visit the ‘Be the Match’ website or if you wish to get a smiled kit text ESUSAVES to 61474.