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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The 18th Medical Command is hosting a C.W. Bill Young/Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program drive this week across the peninsula.

Community members ages 18 to 60 are invited to participate in the program, managed by the Naval Medical Research Center.

Participants need only sign a consent form and donate a blood sample — marrow is taken only after a match is detected and extensive screening and counseling completed.

The Defense Department created its own donor management system because of the U.S. military’s special needs, including the requirement for permissive temporary duty if they’re ever called on to donate marrow and the fact that servicemembers relocate so often.

“The C.W. Bill Young Marrow Donor Center is able to quickly solve these problems by working within its own secure system together with the National Marrow Donor Program and with the donor’s command,” according to information provided by the 18th MEDCOM. “The end result is a well-informed donor and the expeditious marrow donation for patients or casualties needing a marrow transplant.”

If a volunteer matches a patient who has one of more than 70 diseases prompting the need for a transplant, the volunteer receives counseling and a medical evaluation and is asked to consider donating marrow.

As of May, 363,278 volunteers had registered with the Defense Department. More than 1,700 volunteers had provided marrow to a stranger through the C.W. Bill Young Marrow Donor Center.

The Defense Department annual goal is 25,000 newly registered volunteers.

Call Maj. Rex Berggren at DSN 737-6225 for more information.

18th MEDCOM bone marrow drive schedule

Thursday

Camp Walker’s Wood Clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.Camp Carroll’s Community Activity Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.Camp Hialeah’s Troop Medical Clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.Yongsan Garrison’s Collier Field House from 2 to 8 p.m.Friday

Camp Casey’s Hanson Gym from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.Bone marrow drive FAQ

What is the Bill Young Marrow Donor Center?

The Bill Young Marrow Donor Center is one of more than 94 donor centers in the U.S. under the National Marrow Donor Program. It was established to recruit volunteer marrow donors from active-duty military, their immediate family members, civil service employees, Coast Guard, National Guard and drilling reservists.

Why are you targeting the military?

The military is the nation’s largest source of whole blood donations and military personnel more than any other large organization meet our strict health and age requirements.

What is involved in donating bone marrow?

The first step is having a small tube of blood drawn from your arm along with filling out a Department of Defense consent form. The blood is tested to determine your Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type. That coded information (no names or Social Security numbers are used for identification purposes) is placed on the National Registry in Minneapolis, where it will remain until your 61st birthday.

You will be contacted if you are found to be a preliminary match for a specific patient in need of a marrow transplant and asked if you would consent to having more blood drawn for compatibility tests. If you do agree, the staff will make all arrangements for the testing. This process usually takes 6-12 weeks.

If the test results indicate you are an acceptable match, you will be asked to consider donating marrow to the patient. This stage involves having an extensive educational session to explain the entire marrow donation process to you and a complete physical examination to ensure your good health. In addition, one to two units of your blood will be drawn prior to the donation for transfusion back into you after the procedure.

The actual donation is performed at either Georgetown University in Washington or at Fairfax Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. The surgery is done under local or general anesthesia and takes about 1-1½ hours. The bone marrow is extracted from your pelvic bone with a needle and syringe technique.

Who pays for all of this?

All costs for complete HLA typing is paid for from DOD funds. If a volunteer donor has the opportunity to provide a lifesaving match, all testing, medical fees, as well as any travel expenses, are paid for by the receiving patient.

Why are you targeting minorities?

You inherit your HLA type the same way you inherit eye or hair color. That means that someone from the same ethnic background will have a greater chance of being a suitable match. Currently, 69 percent of the volunteer donors on the DOD registry are Caucasian. That means that the chances of finding a suitable donor for minorities are considerably less than for a patient of Caucasian background.

— Provided by the 18th Medical Command

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