Bone marrow saves lives

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kylee Gardner
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. participated in a bone marrow drive held by the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program, also known as Salute To Life.

According to Salute To Life, the program has been established since 1991, has recruited more than 1 million new potential donors within the DOD and coordinated more than 8,000 cellular donations. More specifically, Team Seymour has been participating in the bone marrow drive since 1992.

“With our program, you can register if you are a member of the DOD, whether you’re a civilian, active duty, guard, reserve, or a retiree, if you’re between the ages of 18-60 and if you’re in generally good health,” said Chad Ballance, DOD Marrow Donor Program recruiter.

Representatives from each unit on base were given envelopes to register those who would like to donate. Once someone makes the decision to register, they receive an envelope with paperwork and a cotton swab. The cotton swab is used to swipe the saliva inside their cheek. After the papers are filled out and the sample is taken, the envelope is brought back to the unit representative volunteers and sent off to the 4th Medical Group so that they can provide them to Salute for Life.

Contrary to popular belief, just registering and submitting a cotton swab sample does not mean you will be chosen to donate marrow. In fact, only about one in 430 registered members will be a perfect match for a patient in need, thus asked to donate marrow.

“Donors can only be someone’s perfect match if they are of the patient’s exact same ethnicity,” said Ballance.

Since a match must be so specific, the chances for certain races finding a donor are rare. Only 23% of Black Americans, 41% of Asian Americans and 46% of Hispanic Americans will find a bone marrow or stem cell donor.

If you would like to register as a donor, visit