Student's leukemia case prompts marrow drive

Members of the Geneseo community are coming together to help fellow student Jacqueline Hirsch - recently diagnosed with leukemia - by hosting a bone marrow drive on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.

Colleges Against Cancer, a branch of the American Cancer Society, is holding the drive with support from Greek life, which Hirsch is actively involved in as a member of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority.

According to Sadie Mueller, the American Cancer Society Lakes Region director of special events for Colleges Against Cancer, Hirsch was diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago. Before leaving Geneseo to receive treatment at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, Hirsch was completing her degree in early childhood education by student teaching.

"Jacquie is the type of person that you remember after you meet her because she always leaves a smile on your face," said SDT President Julie Lambalot, a senior. "She embodies what we all look for in a friend, is one of the most generous and caring people I have met since I came to Geneseo, and is someone I have always looked up to."

Mueller added that "Jacquie…is fantastic, loved by so many people and so they stepped up to run this drive."

Junior education and math major Jamie Scordino, a donor, will be available to speak with at the event. "Donating bone marrow has been the best experience of my life. I learned so much about myself and about life during that time period."

Scordino went on the say, "When I received a letter from my recipient the day I donated, everything changed. I learned about her life… and how much she prayed for this day. [I had] this realization of the profound effect that you can have."

Mueller encourages students to get involved. "It is essential that Jacquie get a transplant and there are so many people like her that need them also," she said. "The more people on the registry, the better chance that she'll find her perfect match. Everyone should get on the registry - if you can save a life, why wouldn't you?"

Lambalot continued her petition to potential donors. "The obstacle that Jacquie has encountered could have happened to anyone of us. I hope students will take the time to educate themselves about the Bone Marrow Drive and strongly consider participating."

In order to become a member of the bone marrow registry, an applicant must first meet a number of basic guidelines. Anyone considering being a donor is encouraged to visit, the National Marrow Donor Program's Web site. The Web site explains that donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60, have good overall health and live within the United States or Puerto Rico. Once these requirements are met, the applicant only needs to submit a swab of cheek cells and their contact information.

Perhaps the most important part of the registration process is understanding the commitment that it entails. Donors are listed on the registry until they are 61, unless they request to be removed, and during that time, they will be asked to consider donating to any patient who matches their tissue type.

The donation process consists of two components: a surgical procedure done under anesthesia so the donor experiences no pain during the collection process, and a procedure involving the removal of a donor's blood through the arm. Donors always have the freedom to change their mind, but doing so can be fatal for patients.

Drive attendees will also be able to sign up for the all-night Relay for Life Walk that will be held on April 12 in order to celebrate those who have survived, died or are still fighting cancer.