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Bone marrow donor drive rounds up registry potentials

Submitted by Melissa Ibbotson on March 1, 2012 – 11:18 pm2 Comments

Volunteers Amy Britt and Colin Hall are friends of leukemia patient Leslie Harris. They volunteered at the bone marrow donor drive in the Donaghey Student Center on Feb. 23, which added 405 potential donors to the national registry. The drive was held as part of ‘Marrow Madness,’ during which more than 2,000 people have registered to become donros. Photo by Chelsey McNiel

When a loved one is faced with a serious illness, you often wonder what you can do to help. But friends and family of Little Rock native Leslie Harris didn’t won- der; they went to work.

Last September, Harris was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a life-threatening form of bone marrow cancer, just hours before her son, Ayden, was born. She was told she had six months to a year to live, without a bone marrow transplant.

Immediately, Harris’ friends and family began orga- nizing donation drives across Arkansas and the coun- try, including one at UALR on Feb. 23.

The UALR drive, which is part of a campaign known as Marrow Madness, gathered 405 possible matches for the registry. Amy Britt, a long-time friend of Harris, said it’s not just Harris’ life they are trying to save.

“There’s so many — children and adults, with leuke- mia,” she said. “We’re trying to build the registry.”

Britt said that until recently, there wasn’t a national bone marrow registry, and they are trying to publicize the need for donors.

“People just don’t realize they can really save some- one,” said Isabel Grayson, a donor recruiter with getswabbed.org. “We need to dispel the myth of what [donating] really is.”

Registering as a donor is easy, and can be done in less than five minutes. You simply fill out a form and swab the inside of your cheeks. Then your paperwork and swab is sent off to be tested. Your information

stays in the registry until age 61, and the only requirements are that you be over the age of 18, in good general health and weigh more than 110 pounds.

Leslie Harris with son Ayden, shortly after her first round of chemotherapy. Harris is fighting for her life, and the lives of everyone with leukemia. Photo courtesy of the Prayers for Leslie Facebook page

Friends of Harris were on hand selling t-shirts, arm bands and raffle tickets for a handmade UALR quilt and proceeds will help with her medical costs, which include $1800 a month on medications alone. To donate to Harris’ medical costs, visit everribbon.com and search for Leslie’s Leukemia

For more information on donating and to register to become a donor, visit getswabbed.org. Harris’ story can be found on Facebook by searching for the Praying for Leslie group.

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