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Saving a life, as simple as a swab

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Dastas
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Imagine being a real life hero. Not one that can fly and lift cars over their heads, but with the ability to save lives and protect others from things that can affect their quality of life and overall health. The truth is every year over 17,000 people are diagnosed with diseases requiring help from heroes.

That help comes in the form of stem cell donation, which starts with a swab of the inner cheek. Then, through medical research, the DNA is tested to see if it is a match to one of those 17,000 in need of help. These people have to fight every day to stay alive, but you can be their hero.

Tyndall Air Force Base and other local bases are slated to host the “DoD Marrow Donor Registration Event for Noah” on base, Aug. 9-13, 2021. The contactless registration will be available at most squadrons and the Base Exchange.

“The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program, also known as Salute to Life, works with military personnel and their dependents,” said Chad Ballance, C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Donor Program, senior recruiter. “Since our inception in 1991, we have recruited more than 1 million individuals in the fight against blood cancer and other fatal diseases.”

The DoD Marrow Donor Program is looking for healthy personnel from ages 18-60 to be potential matches for those in need. According to Balance, one out of every 430 that register will be a patient’s perfect match.

With the help of the their 25,000 to 30,000 donors annually, The C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program has successfully matched over 9,000 patients with their perfect donor match since their inception in 1991. These donations save lives, including family members and individuals within the Department of Defense.

Ballance went on to say that within the 17,000 Americans who are diagnosed annually, 500 of those patients are DoD personnel or dependents. With 17,000 Americans being diagnosed annually equaling one diagnoses every three minutes, the need for donors is greater than ever. Though this number continues to grow, the men and women that volunteer to help and donate aren’t deterred.

“Our Donor Center exists thanks to the daily efforts of its members and affiliates of the U.S. military and DoD,” said Ballance. “We extend our deepest appreciation to our donors and honor their selfless acts.  Together, we offer hope and salute life.”

Whether they are seasoned volunteers who have been helping for years, or this is their first year helping the program, the mission is all the same.

“This is my first year helping and donating to the program,” said Master Sgt. Bryan Norton, 325th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron superintendent. “I want members of Tyndall to know that this could be there one chance to get out there and save a person’s life, so please come out and donate.”

Members can contact their unit’s representatives to register or stop by the BX and receive a contactless registration kit. For more information on the program, visit Be the hero someone needs today.