Alpha Gamma Sigma hosts bone marrow registry

Volunteers from Santa Monica College's Alpha Gamma Sigma honors society teamed up with Be the Match Marrow Registry on Tuesday to gather potential donors for blood cancer patients. According to Community Outreach Specialist Janet Higgins, Be the Match reached out to AGS to promote their registry and has worked with AGS for the past two to three years.

“Each donor is a new chance at life and even a cure for blood cancer,” Higgins said. “It’s one of the things you do in life that you can never top again. This is something you tell your children about.”

One of the AGS volunteers at the event, Veronica Oleynik, admitted that she was afraid of the prospect of donating, but that Higgins explained, "That it’s not that bad.”

For those hesitant about donating, Higgins assures that 75 percent of procedures are nonsurgical, and in the 25 percent that are surgical, the patient is put to sleep and feels only a slight soreness afterward.

“Just a little of your time can save someone’s life,” Oleynik said.

One of the students who came to sign up for the registry was Carlos Equivias, who shared that he has a cousin with kidney problems.

“I know this event doesn’t have to do with kidneys, but I still want to help because it’s still helping save lives,” he said.

People who sign up as donors will be on the registry until the age of 60, but only one in 500 people who do the cheek swab test go on to being a donor.

“It’s very hard for patients to find an exact match. Your genetic markers on your DNA need to be a perfect match or donor,” Higgins said.

Higgins has been on the registry for years and has never been matched as a donor.

“If you’re ever lucky enough to be a donor, it’s one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have in your life,” Higgins said.