On the MTV show “World of Jenks,” filmmaker Andrew Jenks gives a voice to those not often heard from, such as the autistic or the homeless. Now he’s giving a voice to another group rarely heard from – those in need of a bone marrow transplant.
On Wednesday, Jenks will be speaking at UCF from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom. While he’ll be sharing his experiences as a filmmaker and clips from his show, his real mission, in conjunction with dosomething.org, is to encourage students to “get swabbed” and register as bone marrow donors.
“Andrew really loved the cause and wanted to be involved,” said Alina Suprunova, vice president of donor relations for DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center.
Suprunova said that when Jenks heard about the cause, he offered to use his upcoming speaking tour as a platform to spread the word.
Steven Natale, director of the CAB speakers committee, said that part of the reason the committee chose Jenks was because he has a message.
“We were looking for someone that college students want to see and [who] has a good message,” Natale said. “He shows that when you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it.”
College students are the ideal audience because, according to DKMS, people ages 18-25 make for the best donors as they recover quicker and have less of a chance of developing side effects.
To register as a donor, you must give a cheek cell sample, which is swabbed from the inside of your mouth. According to DKMS, the sample is then tested for tissue type and added to the national registry.
If you are a match for someone, there are two ways to donate your bone marrow, said Suprunova. The most common way is to have cells taken from the hip, but cells can also be collected from the bloodstream.
Once a person is on the bone marrow registry, they are eligible to donate for the next 40 years of their life. So even if they don’t match someone right away, they may be able to be a match for someone in the future.
“For most college students, that means they’ll be on the national registry until they’re 61,” said Erika Toto, donor recruiter for DKMS. “10-15 years from now you could be a match [for someone].”
Donors can also give their bone marrow multiple times during their life–if they turn out to be a match for more than one person.
“You could potentially do it [donate] every two weeks because the cells do regenerate quickly,” Toto said. There can be side effects to donating, which include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches.
Suprunova and Toto said that donors are taken care of as they go through the process, that DKMS provides a support system and makes sure that the donor is fully prepared for what they are about to do.
If bone marrow donation isn’t an option, DKMS offers another way of getting involved. They’ve set up a program called One Week 100 Cheeks, which allows college students to be the collectors instead of the donors.
“You and nine friends get 10 kits,” Toto said. “You each swab 10 other people and by the end of the week, you’ll have swabbed 100 people.”
The bone marrow drive will take place after the lecture and Q&A, which starts at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 and the event is free for students. For more information on bone marrow donation or One Week 100 Cheeks, visit www.dkmsamericas.org.
Source: Central Florida Future, Andrew Jenks to speak at UCF on Wednesday, by Marisa Ramiccio, contributing writer. Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011; updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 18:03