Potential bone marrow donors visit mall

RUTLAND - This year, Rutland Regional Medical Center (RRMC) celebrated its 10th anniversary drive at Sports Legends Restaurant at the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland.

During those ten years, the program has added more than 2,700 potential donors to the national registry. The 2008 goal was to match or surpass the 188 donors during their first drive in 1998.

Kerry Ellis, RRMC marrow donor program coordinator said, "What a better gift to give this holiday season than the gift of life to someone searching for a match. We thought we'd do it at the mall this year because that's just where a majority of the population heads this time of year and Sports Legends generously had a conference room available as well."

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, every year more than 30,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases and for many individuals a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is the only chance for a cure. However, transplant is only possible with matching tissue types. The need is great.

About 30 percent of individuals find a match within their family, but the other 70 percent must seek out an unrelated donor. Approximately 6,000 individuals are searching the National Marrow Donor Program Registry at any given time.

RRMC's Ellis enlightened this reporter. He reported that RRMC is currently the only hospital in New England that provides this testing at no cost to potential donors. Four people from the area have gone on to be donors.

This reporter became a donor-it's quite painless. Just fill out some information and conduct a cheek swab; the information is then sent to the National Marrow Registry.

If you're interested, contact RRMC's Ellis at 747-6267 or e-mail her at kellis@rrmc.org.

Ten-year-old Madeline Veysey was at the Diamond Run Mall to lend encouragement to potential donors and share her experience as a survivor. She was diagnosed with myelodysplatic syndrome when she was five years old. In 2004, she had her marrow transplant and was able to begin school in September 2005. Kristin Veysey, her mother, thanks everyone for their support.

"We recently celebrated another wonderful checkup. Thanks to God, her donor, and St. Jude, we look forward to many, many more celebrations," Mrs. Veysey said.

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