April 07, 2017

Bone marrow registry drive set for next week

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Robert Broomfield knows first-hand the importance of bone marrow registry drives. If it weren’t for a bone marrow donation, Broomfield, an academic adviser in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts' School of Allied Health, would not be alive. 

A bone marrow registry drive will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, April 11-12, at the north end of the Student Center. The drive is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Participants must be between 18 and 44 years old. Registration takes about 15 minutes and involves a cheek swab. Matches are based on race and DNA, not blood type. 

The event is sponsored by the Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Sigma, a fraternity within the Mortuary Science and Funeral Service program, SIU Athletics, and “Be The Match.org.” 

Broomfield, of Marion, was diagnosed in 2012 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He spent nine days on a ventilator after developing a staph infection and pneumonia and spent two months in rehabilitation. In March 2013, Broomfield received a stem cell transplant from an anonymous male donor in Germany. He was able to return to work in August 2013, and is now cancer free. 

Broomfield noted that a person’s life can hinge on a simple test that can provide a powerful result. 

“It becomes a scary thing while you are getting the transplant realizing that this may not possibly work,” he said. 

He said researchers work hard to match the bone marrow to the right person, and he was told by hospital officials that each time his oncologist would do a test for a match, it cost $7,000. Broomfield added that relatives are not automatic donors, noting that neither of his two brothers were matches.

“So if it was not for this gentleman in Germany … my daughter would not have her dad,” he said. “For such a small thing, it really makes a huge difference to someone.” 

People who are unable to attend the drive on campus next week may consider joining online at https://join.bethematch.org/SIUC.