Freshman sponsor marrow drive

There was one thing that could have saved Carolyn Shepard's life.

She was diagnosed with acute lymphocyctic leukemia during October 2000. In March 2003, she needed a bone marrow transplant to fight the disease. When a donor was found, the illness had progressed too far. Shepard was 18 when she died.

Freshmen nursing students Molly Lappe and Katie Vela wanted to honor Shepard, their high school friend, and spread awareness of bone marrow transplants. A procedure which could have saved their friend's life.

They decided on a bone marrow drive on the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Union from 2 to 7 p.m. today.

The idea came to Lappe and Vela in September 2003, when Cobeen's nursing floor council asked for ideas for a project.

Their friend, Carolyn Shepard, was the inspiration for the project.

"In her junior year (of high school), she (Shepard) was diagnosed with ALL, but she went into remission," Lappe said.

However, Shepard relapsed in March 2003. She needed a bone marrow transplant, but she was unable to get one and died in July 2003.

According to Lappe, the two friends have worked on the project since it was accepted as an idea last fall. They have financial and moral support from the Residence Hall Association, all residence hall councils, the Student Nurses Association, the College of Nursing and the Student Health Service. Donations to the project, which were given by hall councils, parents of Cobeen girls and RHA, have so far covered the cost ($70 per donor) of 61 donations.

So far, according to Heather Seubert, a junior in the College of Nursing and resident assistant for the nursing floor of Cobeen Hall, 40 people have signed up to donate and more are interested. The Blood Center also will be bringing donors, Seubert said, and walk-ins are more than welcome. A small blood sample, which is used to determine if there is a genetic match to a patient, making donation possible, will be taken when registering to be a donor.

Lappe said that she was excited with the turnout, especially considering that the drive was in honor of her friend. She said that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee had a similar drive, and she was hoping to have more students at the Marquette drive than there were at the UWM drive.

The United States Navy also has a program in which the cost of minority donors is paid for, Lappe said, and minority student groups have agreed to send donors.

Luther Bowens, the Marrow Recruitment Coordinator for the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin, said that there was "always a need" for minority donors. He said that the majority of minorities would not find the needed match, and only about 50 per cent of caucasians find a match. Approximately 7,000 people are added to the transplant list per day.

The need for bone marrow donors is great, according to Kerry Kosmoski-Goepfert, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing. She said that requirements for a donor-patient match were very strict, and so out of the about 30,000 registered bone marrow donors in Wisconsin, only 381 were matched to someone needing marrow and able to donate last year, leaving a large number of those needing transplants unable to receive them.

Bone marrow is necessary to treat leukemia. It is also effective in such diseases as Hodgkin's Disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphona, aplastic anemia, sickle cell disease, and immunodeficiency disorders, according to Bowens and Kosmoski-Goepfert.

Most people are able to donate and after registering will remain on the nationwide bone marrow registry until age 61. Those with cancer, asthma, back and neck problems, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and sexually transmitted diseases will not be able to donate, according to Kosmoski-Goepfert.