Bone marrow drive: 'There are still 12,000 people looking for matches'

EUGENE, Ore. -- A marrow transplant is often the best chance of survival for the thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life threatening diseases.

Danielle Schmidt is one of those survivors who relied on a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.

"You never know when it's going to be someone you know who needs this done," she said.

Schmidt organized a bone marrow donor drive at Eugene's Northwest Christian University on Wednesday. Volunteers took cheek swabs from potential donors to help identify who would be their best match for a transplant.

Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer.

"There are still 12,000 people looking for matches who don't have them yet. We're just trying to get more people in the registry to help save lives," said Schmidt.

Six-year-old Cohen is currently suffering from Severe Aplastic Anemia, an autoimmune disease causing bone marrow failure. He may require a bone marrow transplant.

"We're hoping for remission, but if not, we're hoping that he finds a match," said Cohen's grandmother, Sydney Cagle.

To determine who would be the best match for patients like Cohen, the Be The Match Foundation takes cheek swabs of volunteer donors. The donor's results are then cataloged in a database, where they are cross-referenced with people looking for a marrow transplant.

Willing donors must be between 18 and 44 years old.

David McVeigh is a donor who is offering marrow to a leukemia patient next week.

"Next Tuesday I'll be doing that for a 63-year-old male with a chronic type of leukemia," McVeigh said. "It's a small price to pay. I mean, I'll be sore for a day and maybe give someone life for another 10 years ."

Be The Match Foundation is always accepting volunteers who wish to get on the bone marrow donor list.