WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, UNITED STATES
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii — Bone marrow is a critical source of hope to those people affected by many potentially fatal blood diseases that exist today.
The Soldiers and families of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade recently demonstrated their support and willingness to provide that hope as over 1,000 Soldiers, spouses and civilians registered during a bone marrow drive on Wheeler Army Airfield and Schofield Barracks during the month of June.
"The goal was to get as many people as possible to register in the [Department of Defense (DoD)] Bone Marrow Donor Program to assist in the national search for bone marrow donors," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Cashell, Headquarters Support Company, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, who led the organization of the CAB's drive. "With each new registry, it gets those waiting one step closer to finding a match for that life-saving bone marrow transplant."
The DoD formally established its marrow donor program back in 1991 as an integral part of the national effort for matching unrelated marrow donors. The program was named for Congressman C.W. Bill Young, who initiated and supported the development of the National Marrow Donor Program and the DoD program for unrelated donor marrow transplantation. The DoD established the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Center in Washington, D.C., to support DoD volunteer marrow donors. The DoD program's primary purpose is to tissue type as many donors as possible for inclusion in the National Registry of marrow donors.
"Sergeant Cashell has been interested in sponsoring a unit blood drive for quite some time," said Capt. Mark Dudley, commander, HSC, 209th ASB. "While he was researching that opportunity, he discovered that the Army has a bone marrow donation program."
Cashell, a native of Columbus, Ohio, discussed the background behind the push to get as many people registered as possible.
"There is only about a 20 percent chance to match someone you are related to, so this shows the need for a national registry," he said. "With growing diversity, the chances of finding a match from an unrelated donor can be anywhere from one in 20,000 up to one in 200,000. Looking at the current numbers that I could find, there are over 305 million people in the United States and only an estimated seven million, or the population of Virginia, registered in the national database. So as we get more people entered into either the DoD or National Registry, we can increase the odds of finding a match."
With a small team of Soldiers from HSC, 209th ASB, the group was able to reach out to a wide variety of people in the Wheeler area.
"This event and its success were the direct result of the initiative and effort of Staff Sgt. Cashell and our other volunteers," said Capt. Mark Dudley, commander, HSC, 209th ASB. "We had eight volunteers man the donation stations over a period of about two weeks, donating time at lunch and after duty hours, to include weekends. And they managed to register about 1,200 donors."
Cashell also explained the drive was not specific to Wheeler or Schofield Barracks and credited his fellow volunteers' commitment to reaching their initial goal of 1,000 donors.
"The drive was DoD-wide, with individuals setting up and running their own areas, but our part was accomplished by those that volunteered from HSC, 209th ASB; Pvt. Early, Pvt. Gallaher, Pfc. See, Spc. Soltau, Spc. Mahoney, 2nd Lt. Dunnier and 1st Lt. Aquino. There were others throughout the island that did their part as well. There were drives going on simultaneously all over [Oahu] by those that wanted to leave their mark and help save a life."
For more information on the on the DoD Marrow Donor program, call the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program at 1-800-MARROW-3 (627-7693), or visit www.dodmarrow.org.
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This work, Aviation registers over 1,000 bone marrow donors, by SFC Tyrone Marshall, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.