For the second year in a row, the National Marrow Donor Program visited Florida A&M University’s campus to encourage students to join the National Marrow Donor Registry. The National Marrow Donor Program organized a challenge at several Historically Black College & Universities to encourage more African Americans to join the list.
“The purpose of the registry is to save lives, there is a deep need for more people especially people from diverse backgrounds,” said Stacy Toney, an account executive for the recruitment and community development department.
Toney also said bone marrow is race specific.
“It takes a black donor to save a black patient,” Toney said.
During last year’s drive 428 FAMU students registered with the National Marrow Donor Program, however only 301 have registered this year.
Rod Gunn, another account executive, said the decrease in donors is a huge issue.
“The outcome is much less than we expected,” Gunn said.
Gunn said he believes one reason students may have been discouraged is due to the media misinterpretation as well as a general misunderstanding of what bone marrow donation really is.
“Whenever [movies and TV shows] have scenes about marrow transplants and they misinform the public, we write letters to the producers,” Gunn said. “We ask them to correct it but they hardly ever do.”
While Gunn believes the media is to blame for a lack of student participation, Kristopher Gibson, a student volunteer, thinks the drop is due to a lack of student spirit.
“We have to stop being selfish and start being selfless,” said Gibson, a sophomore political science student from Tallahassee.
“Unfortunately, I believe that you have to have a gimmick to get people involved,” Gibson said.
Gibson became listed after hearing about a student form South Carolina State University who was unable to find a donor match and subsequently died.
Taleta Poston believes that the numbers from the registry drive don’t tell the full story.
“It doesn’t matter how many people register,” said Poston, a sophomore journalism student from Columbia, Md. “As long as somebody is taking the time to register it shouldn’t matter.”
Poston has personally experienced the uncertainty that comes with finding a donor. In 2003, Poston’s brother received a bone marrow transplant. Although he received a transplant, Poston’s brother’s rare form of leukemia was terminal. This did not stop Poston from being involved with donating bone marrow.
Poston is on the National Marrow Donor Registry and encouraged her friends and classmates to become registered as well. She said it is important for people to register.
“You’re going through a tiny bit of pain to save a life,” Poston said.