November 28, 2012
MSUB students take steps to save lives
Student-led effort on bone marrow drive nets nearly 90 registrations
Jenny Randall, Office for Community Involvement, 896-5827
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — With signature and a quick swab of her cheek, Jenna Szramoski took the first step to saving a life on Tuesday.
The Montana State University Billings junior doesn’t immediately look like a the stereotypical superhero, but a few minutes at a bone marrow drive at the university took her and some fellow students a step closer to saving someone with blood cancers or life-threatening diseases.
Szramoski, a criminal justice major from Connecticut, was one of 86 students, faculty, staff and community members who registered to be bone marrow donors as a part of the Be The Match program. Be The Match operates the world’s largest listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units to help provide transplants to patients who have blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases.
“I had given blood before and wanted to do something that would help save a life,” Szramoski said.
The registration process was handled by six nursing students from City College (formerly the College of Technology) as part of as service learning project for their management class and coordinated by the MSU Billings Office for Community Involvement. The students were on hand at the Student Union Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help with paperwork and gathered DNA swabs from the inside of the cheeks of those who registered for the Be The Match database.
Szramoski’s process took about five minutes from paperwork to mouth swab. Her information is now in a worldwide database that will be tapped when patients need lifesaving marrow transplant. If she is matched to a patient in the future, she will be contacted for further tests and possible donation.
Sarah Krebs and Holly Kindsfather, two nursing students gathered the swab samples, worked to encourage passers-by to register, but also signed up themselves.
“I think the more people can do to make a difference, the better,” said Kindsfather.
Among those in attendance at the drive a local girl whose life was saved by a bone marrow transplant and her grandmother who has walked across the country to raise awareness for the life-saving process.
The grandmother, Jeana Moore, lives in Spokane and became a bone marrow transplant evangelist when her 5-year-old granddaughter was born with acute myeloid leukemia in 2007 and nearly died. The little girl, Jada Bascom, who now lives in Billings with her parents, had to undergo rounds of chemotherapy and many blood transfusions just to keep her alive.
The key to saving her life, however, was a bone marrow transplant. Nobody in the U.S. was a match, but a man in Germany provided the match that saved young Jada’s life. As a gesture of gratitude, Moore has walked across the United States and parts of Europe to raise awareness and bone marrow registrations. She even arranged for the donor, Torsten Huber, to come to the United States and meet Jada. All three were at the university on Tuesday to encourage others to sign up for the Be The Match registry.
For more information on service learning done by students through the Office for Community Involvement, contact Jenny Randall at 896-5827 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more information on the Be The Match program, go to http://marrow.org/.
PHOTOS ABOVE: Jenna Szramoski, a junior criminal justice major at MSU Billings, completes documentation for the bone marrow registry at a drive at the Student Union Building on Nov. 27. The drive was coordinated as a service project by students in the nursing program at City College at MSU Billings and through the Office for Community Involvement. Nearly 90 students, faculty staff and community members took the time to complete the paperwork and do a simple cheek swab to collect DNA and become a part of the international Be The Match database. Below, nursing students Sarah Krebs, left above, and Holly Kindsfather were among those who helped fellow students get registered by gathering the cheek swabs.