Class plans marrow drive


Elizabeth Shewan, Staff writer

Mercyhurst students have been tackling heavy topics in a unique course called Cancer: Biology and Beyond.

“My point is to bring a holistic view of cancer aside from just the science component,” Sara Turner, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology and teacher of the course, said.

The class has had many guest speakers who have spoken on a wide variety of topics: cancer survivors talking about their experience, cancer researchers, pharmacists and hospice workers, among others.

Another essential element of the class, in keeping with the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, is volunteering.

“I want a key component to be service,” Turner said.

Students have done this by volunteering hours at the American Cancer Center and will continue to volunteer with a bone marrow donor registration drive.

The participants at the drive will fill out a questionnaire and have a simple cheek swab done.

The information from the cheek swab will be stored in the National Bone Marrow Registry, organized by Be the Match.

“Be The Match is an organization that matches patients with blood cancers with potential donors,” Catherine Erway, junior Sustainability major with a Biology minor, said.

In the future, registered members of the registry may be contacted if they are matched to a potential recipient; however, there is no future obligation.

If you become a donor, you will most likely be asked to go through a procedure called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is non-invasive and has no side effects.

“A majority of those who are matches don’t have to give marrow, most go through PBSC where they filter your blood and then replace it into your body. Bone marrow donations are usually only for children who react better to the marrow,” Erway said.

Only one in approximately 430 registered members are called upon to donate.

“I think the most important things about this drive are that this drive is not a promise to commit to donating, it only takes 10 minutes to be added to the registry and most importantly that this can save someone’s life,” Erway said.

The drive will take place on Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Great Room.