Student volunteers table outside the Business Building.

Student volunteers table outside the Business Building. Photo Courtesy of GenCure

GenCure is a nonprofit organization linked with “Be the match” which is the national bone marrow registry. Gencure works to find a match for patients with leukemia. They spent their time at UTSA from Feb. 25 to Feb. 28 asking students to be part of a life changing experience by donating bone marrow to save someone else’s life.

Samuel Hillhouse, one of the representatives at the event, said it’s very difficult for patients of minority backgrounds to find a match because the match is based on ethnicity and the vast majority of donors are Caucasians.

“UTSA is so diverse that the probabilities for patients of [a] minority background signing up to donate [will] help to increase the odds [of donation],” Hillhouse said.

Since 2010 over 8,500 UTSA students have joined the registry. The main goal is to increase this number, and a diverse South Texas can help make an impact.

According to Hillhouse there’s a big misconception that donating is really painful and sometimes that is why people hesitate to donate; however, that is just a myth.

“There are two types of donations. The most common is the Peripheral Blood Stem Cell donation which is donated 75 percent [of the time] and it’s just done by a vein in the arm; they place an IV in your arms. The process to heal after PBSC donation is two days maximum, it is normal to feel tired after the process,” Hillhouse said.

“The second type of donation is marrow which is donated 25 percent of the time; it’s a surgical procedure that takes up to a week to recover.” The span of the donation is entirely up to the donor who can choose a schedule time based on their availability.

It is highly encouraged for people between the age of 18-44 to join in the registry. It is more common for patients that have a donor between 18-26 to have the best outcomes and success rate.

“Donating is important because you often don’t have the chance to help somebody in such a profound way and importantly when you are part of a minority group,” Hillhouse said.

Hillhouse let us know the importance of donating to patients who are having a hard time finding a match. The best way to provide the possibility of finding a match is to diversify the registry by joining and giving every patient an equal outcome.

Students at UTSA know the importance of helping and during those four days when GenCure was on campus there were five student organizations volunteering. Additionally, one student organization from Texas State came all the way to San Antonio just to help.

“It’s very incredible to see all these groups come together for a single mission,” Hillhouse said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Samuel Hillhouse: Samuel.Hillhouse@gencure.org, 1-573-289-3824. Anyone interested in joining the registry can text: UTSA to 61474

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