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Howard hosts fifth annual drive

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, April 21, 2005

When then-junior Howard resident Anne Gurucharri discovered in 2000 that her father Vince (class of 1967) had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare form of leukemia, she looked to the Notre Dame community for help. After learning of a bone marrow drive held the year before by Zahm Hall and the junior class for student Connor Murphy, Guracharri began Howard’s own bone marrow drive.A few months after the drive, her father found a match for a bone marrow transplant that significantly prolonged his battle against cancer so that he was able to see his daughter graduate the following year.This year marks Howard’s fifth annual bone marrow drive. The drive, which takes place today between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the Dooley and Sorin rooms on the first floor of LaFortune, takes blood samples from willing students, faculty and employees and puts them in a computerized registry with approximately four million other potential donors.The drive does not require donors to go through the actual bone marrow donation procedure. Rather, it puts their information in a registry so that persons in need of a transplant with no known compatible match can search the registry for a possible donor.This year, the drive is being co-coordinated by Howard juniors Caitlin McGinty and Natalie Bennett. McGinty and Bennett are both pre-med students, and their studies sparked their interest in helping out with the drive.”I’m impressed they could plan all of this among all of the stress in their lives, including the MCATs last Saturday,” Howard rector Kathy Brannock said.McGinty, Bennett and others began planning for this year’s drive last September, but the bulk of the work came this semester with setup, publicity, soliciting volunteers and taking care of the smaller details to ensure the drive’s success.”The Howard Bone Marrow Drive is just one of many great events run by Notre Dame students that has the possibility to have a monumental impact on someone’s life,” McGinty said. “It is something I was proud and excited to be a part of.”Registering to become a potential bone marrow donor usually costs $65, but the University has covered the costs.”Since we had such great success in registering candidate donors on campus, we have been very fortunate to receive substantial funding from Notre Dame and discounted rates from LifeSource Blood Centers, who provide us with the technicians and supplies to physically conduct the drive,” Bennett said.Last year the Howard drive registered 438 donors. Because it becomes difficult each year to register new donors, since many on campus have already participated, Howard is strongly encouraging the freshman class and ethnic minority students, who are currently underrepresented in the registry, to come out and participate.”Our goal is to have a record number of students, faculty and staff register this year, and in order to meet that goal we have tried to find new and innovative ways to get the word out to the Notre Dame community,” McGinty said.Bennett, McGinty, and others have been advertising through posters, table tents and banners in the dining hall, mailings to students and a grassroots e-mailcampaign.The coordinators also made it a point to clarify the purpose of the bone marrow drive and what is actually involved in registering. They wanted to make sure all students know that all that’s required on the day of the drive is a simple blood sample and paper work. Then, once registered, each potential donor stays on the national registries list until the age of 61.”I really encourage everyone to come out and be registered in this national registry,” Brannock said. “To have that chance to be a match is so important, and this is a real call to Notre Dame’s campus.”