Seymour Johnson AFB   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

News > Airman shares personal experience of donating marrow
Airman shares personal experience of donating marrow

Posted 9/28/2011   Updated 9/28/2011 Email story   Print story


by Robin DeMark
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/28/2011 - Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. -- Minutes count and days matter while a family hopes and prays someone will take three minutes to save their daughter's life. An Airman and father from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, hopes he is once again a donor match for a complete stranger.

Seymour Johnson is conducting a bone marrow drive to find a donor match for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Thomas' daughter Kara, Sept. 26-30. The C.W. Bill Young/DoD Marrow Donor Program is working with the family to find a donor match for Kara who is fighting an inoperable terminal cancer.

To inspire others to join the donor program, Tech. Sgt. Gregory Rosar, 4th Civil Engineering Squadron water and fuels system maintenance craftsman, shares his personal experience of what it's like to donate bone marrow.

"I signed up in 1998 at Sheppard AFB in Texas," said Rosar. "Giving bone marrow is like getting your tonsils out, it's a simple fairly painless procedure with a very short recovery time."

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, registering to become a marrow donor involves a simple procedure such as an oral swab of the mouth or drawing a small tube of blood from your arm. The blood or oral swab sample is tested to determine your Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type. The information is placed on the national registry in Minneapolis, MN, where it remains until a donor's 61st birthday.

"The bone marrow drive at Seymour Johnson will involve collecting oral swab samples only," said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Jenkins, 4th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent. "The first step is giving a Buccal swab that takes three minutes. This is the easiest way to register as a potential volunteer marrow donor."

Once determined as a preliminary match for someone needing a marrow transplant, donors are asked to consent to additional blood testing to determine if the donor is an exact match.

"When deployed last year, I was found to be a match, but they located another donor who was closer and available. When I returned from deployment, they contacted me again because I was a match for a 56-year-old woman with Leukemia," Rosar said. "The base clinic here completed the additional blood testing required."

Once determined a donor is a match, the next stage involves an educational session about the procedure and completing a physical exam to ensure good health.

"All travel, food and hotel expenses were paid by the bone marrow program," Rosar said. "They flew me and my wife to the Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Before the procedure, they gave me a vitamin and iron supplement, and recommended a special diet to increase my stem cell production."

The morning of the procedure, Rosar met his nurse and anesthesiologist, finished a 20-minute surgical preparation and was headed for the operating room.

"Of the two different types of procedures, (a collar bone or a hip bone extraction), mine was a hip extraction," Rosar said. "They drill a very small opening into the hip bone on both sides to collect the bone marrow. It's like a large bug bite, you have more irritation from a tattoo and bandages afterwards. There were no complications, just a few days of feeling sore as if you tried to overdo baseball practice."

Rosar hopes sharing his personal experience will relieve someone's fear of being a marrow donor.

"I have a friend who went through several marrow transplants and she is doing well now," Rosar said. "There is no one who hasn't been affected by cancer in some way. I hope that someone would do the same for my family, it's so easy. When you donate, you receive much more than you give-it's the most unselfish thing you can do for someone else, even if it's someone you don't know."

To view the Fox News interview about the Army veteran's daughter in need of bone marrow visit,

For information about the C.W. Bill Young/DoD Marrow Donor Center visit,

To register as a donor, contact 4th Medical Group at 722-1765 or the appropriate group:

4th FW - MSgt. Evon Ware (2-0045)

4th OG - Capt. William Watkins (2-3490)

4th MXG - MSgt. Matthew Stathakis (2-3098)

4th MSG -TSgt. Sandi Townson (2-5304) & SSgt Charles Newberry (2-8716)

4th MDG - SSgt. Kelly Zerr (2-1580)

911th ARS -TSgt. Andrea Nazario (2-1580)

No comments yet.  
Add a comment

 Inside SJAFB

ima cornerSearch

Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act