Lives will be saved thanks to 74 Bennett College students.
After an on-campus workshop from the Linkage to Life: Organ, Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Program (LTL), the students registered with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).
That’s a significant gift, considering only seven percent of registered bone marrow donors are African American. If the shortage doesn’t already present enough of a challenge, it’s also quite difficult to match minorities with compatible donors due to their rare genetic makeup. Sheldon Mba knows that firsthand. The 19-year-old N.C. Central University student has a rare condition (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria) that requires a bone marrow transplant. He has joined a national effort to encourage more blacks to register with NMDP. He was on the Bennett campus for the program.
Linkage to Life is a national movement sponsored by The Links, Inc., an international non-profit made up of professional women who are committed to the survival of African Americans. According to Margaret James Copeland, national president, the organization instituted donor drives at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in 2011; the first of which was held at Bennett College.
The Links were welcomed with open arms by the Student Union Advisory Board (SUAB), a student-led organization that creates campus initiatives. According to junior Mia Coward, a journalism and media studies major, the seven-member organization set an original goal of 60 registered donors.
“To surpass our goal is really an amazing accomplishment,” Coward said. “We really wanted to do well in our support of bone marrow donor awareness. We typically support initiatives such as breast cancer and HIV, and this was an opportunity to support something different but also equally important.”
Copeland offered praise for those who support the cause as well as the women of her “powerhouse” organization.
“Through the harnessing of this power and Linkage to Life, we are Leading with Excellence, serving with grace and giving the gift of life,” she added.
Once registered, potential donors will remain within a national computer database until NMDP discovers a matching patient. Bone marrow transplant has been used to treat various life-threatening disorders, such as leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia and sickle-cell disease.
LTL accepts the registration of adults. For people under the age of 18, authorization from a parent or guardian is required.