Save a life, become a bone marrow donor
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Each year more than 15,000 people need a stem cell transplant, and Kadena is conducting a week-long bone marrow drive Aug. 20-26 to aid in finding potential matches for individuals in need of a donor.
Team Kadena registered more than 1,000 potential donors last year in an effort to save one of their own, and hopes to get the same turn-out this year.
"We don't have a specific goal because we don't want to pressure the volunteers to try to make quotas," said Senior Airman Taniah Otis, 18th Medical Group laboratory technician. "But, we at least want to do as good as last year."
Like the previous year, the drive is being conducted to help a fellow service member, retired Chief Master Sgt. Kim Jochem. Jochem reached out to Master Sgt. Geoff Robertson, Kadena's career assistance advisor, to grab the attention of the retired chief's fellow service members and help her find a donor who can ultimately save her life.
Otis said the chief has been waiting at least a year for a donor since four potential donors declined the opportunity to give bone marrow to her, and she is in desperate need of one.
"This drive is for the Department of Defense bone marrow program and not only are (donors) helping friends and co-workers, (they are helping) past leaders who have led the way for us," Otis said. "The DOD gets first pick of any donors registered with the program and then the names go on to the national bone marrow program."
During the week-long drive, there will be booths at the Exchange, Fairchild and Olympic Shoppettes, Commissary, Risner Fitness Center, Marshal Dining Facility and the USO to register people to become donors with four simple cheek swabs.
Eligible donors must be between 18-44 years old, meet general health requirements, fill out a consent form and be under the Status of Forces Agreement.
Otis said members around base should register to become donors because if they are a match, they will save someone's life.
"Without a donor the recipients are falling off the map, and as military members we are here to protect people and save their lives; this is just another way to do it," she added.