University News

Be the Match on Campus Chapter Started

October 21, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- There are no greater examples of social responsibility and personal growth than helping to save lives.

Two Western Illinois University students, Grant Severs, a junior biology (medical sciences/pre-dentistry) major, and Ashley Whiteside, a junior agriculture science major, both from Macomb, recently established a Be the Match on Campus chapter at WIU. Be the Match, managed by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), is a grassroots effort of student chapters around the country to register bone marrow donors throughout the world.

An interest meeting of the WIU Be the Match on Campus chapter will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 in Waggoner Hall 171 on the WIU-Macomb campus. WIU students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend to learn more, including information about Western's first bone marrow registry drive in November.

To become a part of the national bone marrow registry, an individual just has to complete a simple test in which the inside of the mouth is swabbed and the DNA sample is entered into a registry. About 8 percent of members who may be a match and complete additional testing will go on to donate. If a member is asked to donate, that means they are the closest Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) match to the patient, the best donor. In order for the match to be successful, the bone marrow donor must have identical white blood cells to the recipient or else the recipients body will reject, and destroy the new marrow cells. This is the reason it is so important to add as many people as possible to the registry so more patients can have a greater chance at finding a successful match, Severs added.

According to the NMDP, every four minutes a baby, child or adult is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia and thousands of these patients need a bone marrow transplant to survive. Be the Match on Campus works to add potential donors to the marrow registry and to raise funds for the National Marrow Donor Program.

The NMDP was established nearly 34 years ago by Dr. Robert Graves, and his wife Sherry, whose 10-year-old daughter Laura was diagnosed with leukemia. The Graves agreed to try the first ever bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. The success of the treatment inspired the Graves to give other families the same hope for a cure. To date, the program has facilitated more than 55,000 marrow and cord blood transplants. The registry includes more than 10.5 million volunteers who stand ready to be a life-saving bone marrow donor.

The registry includes more 10.5 million volunteers who stand ready to be a life-saving bone marrow donor. To read more about how quickly a student chapter and one of its members was called to help,

For more information on Western's chapter of Be the Match, contact Severs at or Whiteside at For more information on Be the Match, visit

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations