Volunteers Needed

In her two decades as a licensed clinical social worker, Kristen Martin has listened to and counseled thousands of clients. For the past 10 years, she has been the coordinator of the University of Tennessee Lady Vol Team ENHANCE (Enhancing Nutrition, Health, Athletic Performance, Networking, Community and Education) program.

She has become a "rock" to many Lady Vol athletes, coaches and staff members who have benefited from her consultations, educational seminars and assessments, which have helped female student-athletes with issues that affect performance, including nutrition, body composition, eating disorders and mental health, and their effects on health and well-being.

Now, Martin needs some support.

Her 10-year-old daughter Anna was diagnosed in May 2011, with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), which is a cancer of the bone marrow. Anna is currently receiving treatment for her leukemia, and she will need a bone marrow transplant to continue to treat and possibly cure her disease.

Since she was little, Anna has grown up admiring all the Lady Vols and is a member of both a swimming and volleyball team.

"Unfortunately for the Martin family, Anna does not have a genetically matched relative," said Jenny Moshak, Lady Vol Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine. "Now, there is a critical need to find an unrelated donor to basically save Anna's life."

For that reason, Martin family friend Hollie Brooks, in conjunction with the Cooperative Appalachian Marrow Program (CAMP), has organized a marrow donor recruitment drive at Hardin Valley Church Christ, 11515 Hardin Valley Road, on Saturday, June 18, 2011, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

"When someone you know and love is diagnosed with such a life-threatening disease, organizing and holding a recruitment drive is one way we can help Anna, as well as all patients, who need a donor," Brooks said.

At the drive on Saturday, participants between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good general health, will be asked to complete a registration/consent form and health questionnaire, and then use a cotton-tip swab to give a sample of cheek cells.

From the sample of cheek cells, a volunteer's genetic "tissue type" is obtained. This "type" is entered into Be The Match Registry® and is available for patients around the world as they search for a match. No actual bone marrow or blood stem cells are taken from a volunteer during the donor recruitment drive.

Linda Hilton, CAMP coordinator, said that in order for a transplant to be successful, the genetic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) or "tissue type" of the patient must match the tissue type of the donor.

"The unique characteristics or traits of an individual's marrow are inherited, in the same way as hair and eye color, are inherited. A patient's most likely match may be another family member, usually a sibling," Hilton said.

However, most patients (about 70 percent) in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. For thousands of people who do not have a genetically matched relative, the need is critical to find an unrelated donor.

The Be The Match Registry®, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), maintains a database of volunteers who have agreed to donate bone marrow or blood stem cells if ever matched with a patient in need of a transplant.

"Commitment is the key to helping patients, including Anna. When you join Be The Match Registry®, you are promising to help any patient in need, anywhere in the world," said Hilton. "Just as you would want someone to donate to save the life of someone in your family, you need to be willing to donate to save someone else's family member.

"Your choice to give the gift of marrow or blood stem cells may cost a few hours of your time, but its long-term value is priceless. It gives someone a second chance at life."

For additional information, contact Linda Hilton, Donor Center Coordinator, CAMP at 423-854-5658 or 1-866-680-0137.

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