Bone marrow transplants are critical to the survival of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening blood disorders.
Texas Tech University's Goin' Band from Raiderland needs help to beat Baylor University in a friendly competition to increase the number of potential donors on a worldwide bone marrow registry.
“Banding Together to Be the Match” starts with a registration drive from 12:30-4 p.m. (Aug. 28) in the Red Raider Lounge of the Student Union Building (SUB). Band members will register as potential donors with Be The Match, a national bone marrow registry. Gage Klein, a 12-year-boy from Andrews with Fanconi anemia, will demonstrate the need for bone marrow donors. He has been waiting for a bone marrow transplant for three years.
“If he does get the transplant, that doesn't cure it; it only prolongs his life until he's 25 or 30,” said Barbara Klein, Gage's mother. “But that gives us a little more time for research.”
On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, in the week leading up to the Texas Tech-Baylor football game, members of the Lubbock and Texas Tech communities can register to be donors. Registration will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Canyon Room of the SUB and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 in the Lubbock Room of the SUB.
From Aug. 28 to Oct. 3, students and community members can register at www.bethematch.org and include the promo code “ttuband” so the Goin' Band will get credit for the potential donor.
The winner will be announced at halftime during the football game Oct. 3 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Organizers Duane Hill, the director of the Goin' Band from Raiderland, and Anita Gonzales, community event representative for Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, said they hope the fun, competitive aspect of the event will get more people registered and create public awareness about the need for bone marrow registration and donation and how people can help.
“The Goin' Band exists to entertain, inspire and be excellent in all we do both on and off the field,” Hill said. “‘Banding Together to Be the Match' is our opportunity to inspire and educate others on being a bone marrow donor.”
The project began when other band directors spoke about their involvement at the College Band Directors National Association Athletic Band Symposium. Hill talked to his counterpart with the Baylor Golden Wave Marching Band, and they decided on a drive with a competitive twist.
The need for participants is significant, Gonzales said. For patients with a variety of diseases, including leukemia, A-plastic anemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and other blood disorders, a bone marrow transplant may be the only hope for a cure. There is only a 30 percent chance a sibling will be a compatible DNA match for a patient, so in the majority of cases hospitals and doctors turn to Be the Match to find a potential donor.
People of non-white ancestry are especially needed as potential donors as ethnicity plays a significant role in matching patients.
“The importance of a bone marrow transplant can be the difference between life and death,” Gonzales said.
Registered donors must be between 18 and 44 years old and generally in good health. Participants will have their cheeks swabbed to provide a DNA sample, which determines compatibility between donor and recipient, and donors are added to the registry.