The Ross Medical Education Center Ann Arbor, Michigan campus welcomed Caitlin Regan from Michigan Blood Be the Match registry for bone marrow donation on July 14th. Caitlin was welcomed by Ross staff, faculty, and students who were moved by a video depicting the story of a match success. Baby Clara received a donation from a young man that saved her life. The video drove home the importance of the registry as it strives to serve patients with leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and other blood cancers.
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to Caitlin. Students were shocked at the number and were eager to help. Student Alyssa Coghlan in the Ann Arbor Medical Assistant program was one of the students who volunteered to register. She even told Caitlin, “I would like to volunteer!” Another Medical Assistant student, Lena Hicks, is a cancer survivor and shared about her experience saying, “donors really appreciate putting a face with a name.” She also volunteered to work with the program. To join the registry, students just needed to swab their cheeks and drop the swabs in an envelope. Caitlin explained there is currently a need for diverse potential donors as more than 70% of the donors on the registry are caucasian.
Caitlin travels all over the state of Michigan to educate potential donors between the ages of 18-44 about the importance of joining the registry. Ross Medical is an important partner of Be the Match and Caitlin travels to each Michigan location twice a year to educate Ross students. She informs them of the importance of the registry and how they can help patients in need. Caitlin explained the process which is based on HLA tissue type rather than blood type. If a person is a potential match, they go through extensive testing to ensure they are a healthy candidate. All expenses for the donor are paid by the organization and donors may bring a support person with them.
Since the Be the Match partnership with Ross began in 2013, over 1,000 Ross Medical students have registered! Ross Medical actually received the Community Advocacy Award at the Be the Match golf outing last year for their dedicated partnership with this important organization. Ross Ann Arbor students, staff and Instructors are proud to join others in the Ross family to join the registry and help those with blood cancers.
To learn more about how you can help, visit the Be The Match Registry at Michigan Blood Facebook page or the Michigan Blood Be the Match website at www.miblood.org/be-the-match-registry.