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Cartersville Drive Raises Awareness for Bone Marrow Donors

This article was originally published on daily-tribune.com.

Emphasizing the need for bone marrow donors, Blood Assurance recently conducted a bone marrow and blood drive in honor of Bayley Whittle. Presented at Felton Manor Personal Care Home in Cartersville, the effort on Sept. 15 acquired more than 10 bone marrow contributions.

“Bayley was a three-sport lettering athlete graduate from Gordon Central in 2015,” said Rhonda Moore, Community Engagement representative for Be The Match/Blood Assurance. “As a University of West Georgia football player, healthy and athletic, Bayley started showing signs of an illness that was difficult to diagnosis. However, Bayley was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and advanced stage leukemia. Presently, Bayley is in need of a marrow donor.

“At this particular drive, there were 13 blood units collected and 13 bone marrow donations; however, there have been 1,300 individuals who have registered this summer with Be The Match program for Bayley.”

While a match for Whittle was not detected Sept. 15, his mother, Wendy Whittle, is extending thanks to those who participated. The family resides on the county lines of Bartow, Floyd and Gordon.

“We want to find a match for Bayley, but we hope that many matches [are] found from the drives that we do in Bayley’s name,” she said. “The blood products — when you’re in the chemo unit and you see how many people do end up getting blood and platelets every day that you’re there, you realize real quick that [there is] a huge need. He’s had to have blood himself. So I’m just thankful that Star Manor and Felton Manor reached out and wanted to help. So we’re just thrilled.

“We appreciate it more than they can ever know. That is a cure for someone, hopefully Bayley. If not, hopefully someone else. People are afraid to get on the donor registry, because they think it’s a surgical procedure and it’s not. So if you are chosen, it’s such an easy procedure. It’s basically like donating plasma, and that saves someone’s life.”

Echoing Wendy Whittle’s comments, Moore underscored the importance of donating.

“Both blood and bone marrow donations are needed by thousands of hospital patients each and every day,” Moore said. “For thousands with blood cancers, like leukemia, [and] other diseases, like sickle cell anemia, a marrow transplant is their only hope for life. If you have diverse ancestry, patients especially need you to donate because they are most likely to ‘match’ with someone who shares their heritage. While you may never meet the patient whose life you saved, simply knowing that you’re truly helping to save a life is the most rewarding experience."

“It’s easy to be a marrow donor. All you need to do is join the Be The Match Registry. You must be between the ages of 18 and 44, meet health guidelines, complete a registration form and swab the inside of your cheek. The swab is tested to determine the donor’s tissue type. You are only called to donate if you are a potential match for a patient.”

For more information, visit www.bloodassurance.org/bonemarrow or https://join.bethematch.org/bayley.