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Swap meet shoppers asked to sign bone-marrow registry


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POSTED: Friday, June 05, 2009

Shoppers looking for bargains tomorrow at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace could possibly save a life as well.

All they have to do is sign up as a donor at the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry in Section 4-B.

The registry is looking for bone marrow matches, especially for eight to 10 residents ages 23 to 60, said donor recruiter Ferdie Gabat.

A Caucasian 1-year-old named Ally in Maryland with Hawaii ties also needs a lifesaving match, he said. She was diagnosed with leukemia over Christmas and is undergoing chemotherapy until a bone marrow donor is found.

About 70,000 people are listed on the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Gabat said. The national registry has about 7 million potential donors, he said, yet many people like Ally are waiting to find a match.

“;The challenges we are facing as a registry, people do not normally sign up unless they can relate to the cause—unless a friend or family (member) is diagnosed with leukemia,”; Gabat explained.

Also, for some puzzling reason, about half of the people who register “;say no”; to donating marrow when matched with a patient, he said.

“;We have a hard time locating donors that match a patient in addition to that. It's really tough.”;

There is a huge demand for donors from minorities, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Polynesians and those with a multiracial background, he said.

The registry uses a “;buccal swab”; technique to test potential donors, swabbing cheek cells inside their mouths.

Donors must be between age 18 and 60 and in good general health.

The registry will be on site from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information about the donor program, call 547-6154.