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By FLORENCE CAZENAVE fmc007@latech




Count ’em up. There are, officially, 985 heroes on Tech’s campus.

Nine hundred eighty-five Tech students, faculty and community members showed up in droves to help out with the “Heroes Save Lives Bone Marrow Drive” from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday in the Student Center, Main Floor.

Those numbers mean that Tech held the national all-time record for college bone marrow drives-for 24 hours-until the University of Louisiana-Monroe broke the record again Tuesday.

Kathy Reeg, of Ruston, event coordinator at Tech, said the drive had been in the works at ULM since November. The drive consisted of a three-day competition between Tech, ULM and Grambling State University.

“I got a call asking to coordinate the event [at Tech] two and a half weeks ago,” Reeg said. “I worked to get as much help from the community as possible. But it wasn’t my effort, it was God’s.”

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, the purpose of the programs is to match volunteer donors with patients, arrange collections and transportation of blood-forming cells and manage patient support and research programs. Marrow transplants are used to treat leukemia and other life-threatening blood diseases.

Sue Ellen Cascio, the event’s local coordinator, said participants had to fill out a questionnaire, go through a medical screening and get the inside of their cheeks swabbed.

“The whole process takes 15 minutes,” Cascio said. “It’s much easier than what people think.”

Cascio said universities are a good area to get volunteers  due to diversity in ethnic backgrounds.

Reeg stressed that marrow donations from minority groups are very important and there is a great need for them.

She said there are currently 32,000 people across the United States that have not found a match. She said if volunteer donors receive a call saying they are a genetic match to someone in need, they are not obligated to accept.

“Nothing is set in stone. You have to option to say yes or no,” Reeg said. “You’d be surprised though. I saw many students willing to save a life.”

Lloyd Allen, a senior mechanical engineering major, attended the bone marrow drive.

“I thought it was a good cause. It was there to help children out,” Allen said. Once Allen was swabbed, the process was still not complete. Allen was willing to go the extra mile and actually donate bone marrow.

“They keep it in the database until you’re 61,” Allen said. “I would seriously consider [donating.] I mean, you can’t say no.”

Nathan Kopay, a senior electrical engineering major and a member of Air Force ROTC, also attended the bone marrow drive.

“About 20 people from ROTC came to donate,” Kopay said. “It shows Tech is community-minded; people help each other out.”

Reeg and Cascio are both grateful to all bone marrow donors that participated in the competition.

“Those three universities, those three communities came together to help,” Cascio said. “Everybody was a winner.”

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