BELPRE - Area officials sought to raise awareness and participation in a national bone marrow database during Friday's area Swab-a-Thon event.
Area residents were encouraged to stop by one of three sites -Marietta Memorial Hospital Belpre Campus Strecker Cancer Center or in Marietta at Pioneer Chevrolet Cadillac and Peoples Bank on Putnam Street - to fill out paperwork and have their cheeks swabbed. The samples are then sent to be tested and added to the "Be the Match" national bone marrow registry.
The registry is restricted to people between the ages of 18-61 who do not have a history of cancer or other blood-borne disease.
Shane Binegar, an auto body technician with Pioneer Chevrolet Cadillac in Marietta, takes a cheek swab as part of the Swab-a-Thon held Friday in Marietta and Belpre. (Photo by Michael Erb)
Courtney Beymer, a social worker at the Strecker Cancer Center in Belpre, said the chances of a person being a match for one of the thousands of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant are 1 million-to-1, but any chance can be a last hope for a person in need.
"If you are called, you are a person's last hope," she said. "This is the ultimate gift you can give to someone."
Only 1 of 3 patients requiring a bone marrow donation find a suitable match through family members. The others must rely on the national registry to find matches.
Parkersburg resident Kenny Cooper signed up Friday to be part of the registry.
"A friend of mine had leukemia. They had a hard time finding a match," Cooper said. "I wanted to help if I could."
It's difficult to live in the Mid-Ohio Valley without having friends or loved ones touched by cancer, said Barbara Sanford, who helped coordinate the Swab-a-Thon at Pioneer in Marietta. Sanford said the dealership family has a close friend who has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and so far has not found match through the registry.
"That is part of why we wanted to do this," Sanford said. Cancer "touches so many people, and the more you talk about it the more you realize."
Sanford said the dealership saw a good number of people come in to sign up Friday, and officials hope to hold another Swab-a-Thon at their dealership in Chillicothe, Ohio.
"Our goal is to get 1,000 swabs," she said. "It's not really about the numbers, though. You want committed people. But this also gives us a goal to work toward."
Officials said between the three sites Friday they likely added more than 100 people to the database.
Beymer said those who missed Friday's Swab-a-Thon can still sign up to be part of the registry. Beymer said she always has kits available, and those wanting to make an appointment or receive a kit can contact her at (740) 401-0257.
The process is relatively quick, with some paperwork and four cheek swabs, she said. Kits also can be requested and mailed in through the national Be the Match program at marrow.org.