Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 10, 2001

Bone marrow drive to take place Oct. 3

By Patrice Waldron

Winsted Volunteer Fire Department will achieve its goal Oct. 3 when it will sponsor a bone marrow drive.

Because the nation's blood supply is at a critically low level, a blood drive will take place at the same time.

What started out as an idea to help cancer patients find new hope, and do something for the health of the community, has turned into a project embraced by the Winsted community.

As plans were being made for the Winsted Summer Festival, the idea came about to host an auction to raise money to fund the proposed bone marrow drive.

This auction was a little different. The item up for bid was the chance to give someone a haircut. The volunteers were willing to go bald (and most did), to raise money for this worthy cause.

Ten firefighters, one police officer, one Winsted businessman, and one young boy, helped raise nearly $3,800 in a couple of hours.

Raising the money to host a bone marrow drive with no out-of-pocket expenses to the donors is not an easy task. The information packets about bone marrow donation all contain lengthy sections on fund-raising.

The winning combination of selflessness and generosity helped raise the funds necessary to continue with the plans for the bone marrow drive.

The money for the drive is available, research has been done to find the agency which best meets the goals set for the drive, and the date is set.

The planning is underway. At first, the fire department was only planning to host a bone marrow drive, but when it was learned that the price to become a bone marrow donor was vastly cheaper if a unit of blood was donated at the same time, it was decided that a bone marrow/blood drive would take place.

With the lower cost, the fire department will have the funds available pay for more donors to be tested.

Only one needle stick is required for a patient to donate a unit of blood and collect the sample necessary for the bone marrow testing.

The American Red Cross has reported that the nation's blood supply, and the blood supply available to those who live in our area are both very low, Herbolsheimer explained.

"Hopefully we can offer help to two groups with one drive," he continued.

The criteria for donating blood or donating a sample for bone marrow testing are the same in some respects, different in others.

One concept is universal, the patient must be kept free from anything which could cause further illness.

Prospective bone marrow donors will be provided information about the donation process, will answer a series of health questions, and then will sign a consent to donate form before the blood sample is collected.

Screening criteria may prevent some people from becoming bone marrow donors, but those people may still be eligible to donate blood.

For example, those at risk for anesthesia reactions (such as asthmatics) are deferred from bone marrow donation. A person with anemia (low iron) is deferred from donating blood, but that person may be able to become a bone marrow donor.

The combination of hosting a bone marrow drive and a blood drive may allow more people to participate than hosting a single event.

It is hoped that there will be a good turn-out for the Wednesday, Oct. 3 drive. The bone marrow/blood drive is tentatively set to take place at the Winsted fire hall. The more who participate in the drive, the more patients who will be given a second chance, a chance that may be available only through a bone marrow transplant, said Herbolsheimer.


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