News: USS Blue Ridge sponsors bone marrow registration drive
By Mass Communication Specialist Second Class (SW) Jeff Troutman
At SEA – U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) medical department recently teamed up with U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan to promote a bone marrow registration drive June 21 and 22.
The registration drive was held on the ship’s enlisted mess decks and drew approximately 200 volunteers.
“This is the first time Blue Ridge has held a bone marrow registration drive, so we’re excited to be involved with this,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Justin Cayetano, a donation drive coordinator. “We’re happy that the crew turnout was this good, and we hope to continue doing this kind of thing every year.”
The registration drive was not an actual donation process, but rather a screening process involving a buccal (cheek) swab. The samples taken from the volunteers are tested for their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type, and after being genetically coded, the information about the member's HLA type is entered into a national database of donors. If tests reveal a match for the volunteer’s bone marrow has been found, the volunteer will be contacted about donating their bone marrow.
“Bone marrow is used to help treat diseases such as leukemia and diabetes, so the more participation we have with these donation drives, the better,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Misac Lopez, the Blue Ridge point of contact for the registration drive. “The purpose of this drive is to collect samples from donation volunteers, so if there is a perfect match for a recipient in need, the volunteer has the option to donate.
Not one volunteer was turned away, Lopez said. The Blue Ridge medical department saw the vast majority of their supply of bone marrow test kits utilized over the two-day registration drive, as crew members lined up eager to help.
“Treatments like chemotherapy destroy the body’s red and white blood cell counts,” said Cayetano. “A bone marrow transplant to a recipient in need can help the individual recover faster. Finding a perfect match can be a difficult process, so it’s imperative to have maximum participation when we hold these kinds of registration drives.”
Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for nearly 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, Blue Ridge is vital in forging partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
For more information on how to become a bone marrow donor, visit: http://www.dodmarrow.org/.