Decreasing the Donor Deficit (DDD) – Cancer Awareness and Bone Marrow Donor Recruitment
Developed in 2008, the purpose of DDD is to raise awareness of cancer treatment by bone-marrow transplantation and to recruit new donors. DDD is aimed at increasing the number of donors from racial and ethnic minority populations because a significant health disparity exists in bone marrow donor registrants. Students can gain experience in health care promotion by advocating the need for bone marrow donors to community members and increasing the number of people on the “Be the Match Registry”, organized by the National Marrow Donor Program. While people of Caucasian ancestry have about a 74% chance of matching with a bone marrow donor, a person of African American ancestry has only a 7% chance of finding a donor. Decreasing the Donor Deficit service learning project has been designed to address the vast under representation of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities in the Be the Match Registry. The goal of this project is not only to increase the number of donors who join the registry, but also to educate the community about the importance of bone marrow donation and the ethnic genetic specificity that it requires. We hope that by providing the education, we can inspire more people to become involved in the “Be the Match program” so that we can help save lives and may continue to Decrease the Donor Deficit.
Through this program, students gain awareness concerning health disparities in the community and work to combat them, thereby increasing student’s competency about real health care issues facing the community. This provides a foundation for the students to deliver better care to future patients, helping their future patients by advocating others to join the marrow donation registry, focusing on minority groups with lower match rates. Through this work & education, participating students are better able to provide complete care to patients.
Students have previously organized bone marrow registration drives at UNMC and during community events such Men’s Health Day, the Black Family Health & Wellness Fair, and the Light the Night Walk benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.