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IU Gift of Life ambassadors to hold Swab Week on campus Nov. 11-18


IU student ambassadors and volunteers for the Gift of Life Marrow Registry will set up tables across campus to recruit donors for blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants Nov. 11-18. 18 as part of Swab Week. Their goal is to inform students of the organization and increase the number of people on their registry to better help find matches for patients. 

The Gift of Life Marrow Registry is a nonprofit organization based in the U.S. that facilitates transplants to patients with blood cancers and disorders domestically and internationally. 

To join the registry, students can pick up a kit at a Gift of Life table, swab their own cheek and complete a survey online with health history and demographic information, Jane Georgas, IU junior and Gift of Life ambassador, said.   

With the cheek swab, the organization takes the tissues and cells from the cheek swab to input the possible donors into the registry to find a possible match for a patient, Georgas said. She said most matches are 18 to 35 years old because they are more likely to be eligible in terms of health, making IU’s campus a strong candidate for donors.  

“It’s really important to get as many people on the registry as possible so that more patients are able to find their match and be cured,” Georgas said.  

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Jordan Ledyard, recruitment specialist of the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, said the organization will give short presentations to inform students about the organization, cheek swab kits and merchandise at the Gift of Life tables.  

Ledyard said the most important part of Swab Week is educating people on how they can help individuals suffering from blood cancers and disorders.  

“A lot of people don’t realize they have the power to help cure blood cancer, but they actually do,” she said. 

Ledyard said if someone matches with a patient, they will then do a blood test and a physical exam to ensure they are the best match and healthy to donate. After that, they will go through with their donation. 

Gift of Life Marrow Registry has partnered with medical organizations such as the Pre-PA club, Compassion to Action and MedLife to get as many swabs as possible, and they plan to partner with more student organizations on campus, Ledyard said. 

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Participating in the cheek swab is a 2-5 minute process which can help save someone’s life, Tommy Hartman, IU freshman and Gift of Life ambassador said.  

“It’s such a small-time commitment, the outcome is too great to be overlooked,” Hartman said. 

He said IU’s campus has a lot of ethnically diverse people which the registry is in need of for donors. The Gift of Life’s goal is to get 1,000 swabs in one week and expand the registry through IU, Hartman said. 

“To the people that are scared of donating blood because of the needles, you got to put yourself in the patient’s shoes,” Hartman said. “They rely on people signing up for this registry so that one day they can have a chance at life.” 

Hartman said the hope is to have Swab Week become an annual event on campus, especially with them in the process of becoming an official campus organization.  

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