Bone Marrow Foundation Hosts 5 K Run/Walk



by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan
Coronado Eagle & Journal
Coronado Newspaper - Published weekly since 1912

Icla Da Silva was a 13-year-old Brazilian girl who lost her fight with leukemia. Her older brother Airam wanted to do something to try to make Icla’s fate not be someone else’s by creating the ICLA DA SILVA Foundation, an organization that recruits people to be part of the nationwide bone marrow registry for Be The Match.

 

Based in New York, the foundation has expanded to the west coast and a year ago local representative Danielle Stewart organized a 5 K run/walk at Tidelands Park. Last year her friends and family from Los Angeles came to participate to the event. Stewart, who is a volleyball coach, also recruited her team to run. The event had 90 participants. She hopes to have more participants this April 2 when the second 5 K walk/run will be held. Participants can become part of the registry by giving a cheek swab which is entered in the bone marrow registry called Be The Match. “We try to grow the event and raise more money and more awareness,” said Sarah Sobel development and events coordinator.

 

Games, activities, music, and massages will all be part of the very family oriented event that starts at 8 a.m. with registration followed by a yoga class to help participants stretch. Awards and medals will be awarded at the end of the event. Many volunteers will be on hand to hand out snacks and waters including cadets and nursing students. Last year the event had about 50 volunteers. The run/walk has no age limit and people of all ages participated last year from moms who brought babies to an 82-year-old.

 

As the community representative Stewart talks to schools, businesses and corporations to recruit would be donors and wants to shed light as to what it takes to be a donor. “I’m the only one of the foundation in the San Diego area. I have a lot of ground to cover to get the word out,” she said.

 

Stewart explained that many times donating bone marrow is associated with pain and fear. Stewart said there are two ways to donate bone marrow depending on the patient and the particular situation. One way is through plasma donation. In this case the donor’s blood is separated from the stem cells which go to the patient while the blood goes back to the donor. The blood draw takes two to four hours. This donation method is used for 80 percent of the time but in case of a liquid marrow donation, usually needed for children under the age of 10, the process requires a transplant done under general anesthesia and one to five percent of the liquid marrow is extracted. This procedure takes between 30 and 90 minutes. After the anesthesia wears off the donor can leave the hospital. Chances of being chosen as a donor are 1 in 540. When a donor is matched with a patient a Be The Match representative will work with him or her. “The stem cells and the liquid marrow are constantly being reproduced and in 4 to 6 weeks the amount donated is reproduced by the body,” explained Stewart.

 

Stewart welcomes groups and organizations to invite her to speak at their events and will even hold a bone marrow drive. Before would-be donors sign the registry they need to be educated. “They have to be 100 percent committed,” she said. Stewart explained that since it is very difficult to find matches when one is found, patients would be heartbroken to find out the donors has changed their minds. It is estimated that every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia.

 

“When I speak, the more people I add to the registry the more people are going to be saved,” she said. “We have 12.5 million people on our registry and over 4,000 patients.”

 

The foundation hosts about 250 marrow drives per month. To be part of the registry you have to be 18 to 44 years of age and do a cheek swab. To register for the 5k run/walk log on www.thematchmaker5k-sandiego.org. For more information log on www.icla.org