BANGOR – There are many ways to say I love you, but none are better than giving the gift of life. A bone marrow drive on Valentine’s Day could do just that.
“The chances are that you can save a life – you don’t know how small or big they are, but it could be you,” said James Cook, an assistant professor at The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA).
And it could. Students from UMA’s Biology Club are sponsoring a Be The Match bone marrow drive. Where a simple mouth swab could save the lives of thousands.
“It’s like giving blood. You literally sit there and they don’t actually drill into your hip,” said Cook, “They just put a needle in the corner of your elbow and take out bone marrow cells from your blood and then you’re done.”
For Cook, this cause is something that affects him personally. His wife, Tracy is one of those individuals in need of a match. She’s been sick for four years and because of her heritage, she’s finding it extremely difficult to find a match. She is born to a Irish-German mother and Filipino father. It’s struggle many encounter. Over 70 percent of patients do not have a match within their own families. These matches are key for survival.
“I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see my wife get sicker and sicker every month for four years,” said Cook, “She’s beaten the odds, she should have been dead by now.”
Whether it’s to get a match or to make it to your kids’ graduation. Time isn’t a luxury that they have. But it seems that all they can do is wait and hold on to whatever hope is left.
“My wife will probably never get a match, she’s probably going to die.,” he said, “But I know this – someone else in Maine has Myeloma, we have to have those people now and the way to do that is to join the registry now, while you’re young.”
This year’s drive is being held on Valentine’s Day for a reason.
“That’s what the wedding vows are all about. For better and for worse. For richer and for poor. In sickness and in health,” said Cook, “That’s what people who love one another do. So for Valentine’s Day show that love. Show that love, not just for the ones you love, but for everyone.”
The drive starts at 10 a.m., and will run until 3 p.m., at UMA’s Richard Randall Student Center.