Simple Swabs Turn Students Into Saviors

When Usha Kaila’s sister was only 5 years old, a severe medical scare showed just how important bone marrow donations can be.

“She was getting bruises really easily. We went to the doctor to kinda figure out what that was. And, she was needing blood transfusions, because she had a blood condition where her bone marrow wasn’t making her blood properly.”

That’s when Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry became an integral part of her life. Usha says, the registry and marrow her sister received, is the reason she is alive and healthy today.

“It’s an organization that’s, you know, very close to my heart. I’ve been doing stuff with Be The Match since high school.”

Now that she’s the Vice President of UGA’s Be The Match On Campus, she’s able to help put on events like today’s Swab-Off event, which is a 3 day long competition between fellow Be The Match schools in the SEC. The goal is to register the most potential bone marrow donors by swabbing the cheek or taking blood.

“We’d love to get more than 200 (donors), which over three days is usually do-able.”

In fact, UGA won the inaugural Swab-Off last year, a feat Usha hopes the school can repeat.

“We’re usually number one or number two among college campuses across the nation.”

The ideal donor is between 18 and 60 and in good health. Although donating bone marrow is a surgical procedure, the donation process is generally paid for by the recipient and their insurance, and pain following the donation goes away just a few days after the process is finished.

By: Paul Andresen


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