Nothing humorous about this: Ipswich High’s first bone marrow drive

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Did you know that to save a life all you have to do is get your cheek swabbed? That’s right. It is the first step in the life saving process of a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow can treat and cure deadly diseases. In an effort to enact change, the Ipswich High School student leadership class is hosting the school’s first ever bone marrow donor registry event. This event will take place on January 6th, 2016 at Ipswich High school.

Bone marrow makes up the innermost part of bones and is the center of red and white blood cell production. A number of blood borne infections, such as leukemia, severe aplastic anemia, and sickle cell disease, kill the bone marrow. When bone marrow dies the production of red and white blood cells decreases. A smaller amount of white blood cells results in a weaker immune system. This will make it harder for the body to fight infection. When the red blood cell count decreases, there will be less oxidization in the body and other systems will not operate correctly.  A bone marrow transplant is a necessary treatment for most of these blood borne diseases. Most patients will die without it. Transplanting new marrow into the affected person allows the body to begin to create new blood cells, both red and white.

A bone marrow transplant can seem like a daunting procedure, but it is worth it to save lives. Let’s break down the process. The first step is to get registered as a donor. All donors have to be between the ages of 18 and 44.  As previously stated, the process starts with a cheek swab. The swab allows doctors to check your tissues to see if you are a compatible donor with a patient. According to former marrow donor Ben hills, “Only about one in 540 go on to donate.”  At a later date you will be contacted about extracting your marrow.  All bone marrow transplants take place in an operating room. Anesthesia is given to the donor before the procedure. The procedure is quick and the donor is usually out of the hospital that same day. There is little to no risk of donating bone marrow.

The Ipswich student leadership class will be holding the registry drive from 1pm to 6pm on January 6th, 2016. The students behind it have been working hard to make this drive a reality. Teacher Molly Smith says, “ The kids in the class have been working on different action plans. This is one of the big ones being carried out, and it is the first time the school has done it.”

The student behind the whole operation is senior Ben Hills.IMG_20151221_112945 This drive holds a lot of meaning to him. Ben’s mother died of breast cancer when he was young. A few years ago, his brother Collin was diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma. In an exclusive interview with the Tiger Transcript, Ben told of those first few agonizing months.  “When Collin got the diagnosed, I didn’t know how to feel. I guess the main thing going through my head was that the same thing that happened to my mom was going to happen to Collin.” Luckily for the Hills’ family, the cancer made its retreat two years later. Collin’s doctor advised the family to go through with a bone marrow transplant to prevent the cancer from returning. Ben was the most compatible of his three brothers, so he was chosen to be the donor. Since the procedure Collin has been living a cancer free life.

This drive is the first step in changing someone’s life. Here at Ipswich, we have the chance to create many more success stories like Collin’s. Donating your time, marrow, and support can make the difference between life and death. We ask that you join us here at Ipswich High and help save a life.  As we say in Ipswich, making a difference starts here.