January 25, 2009
So. The bone marrow drive was a complete success.
There were 2000-2200 people estimated to attend Arisia, so we went with 20 people as a reasonable number of registrants. This is something new, and even when reactions are positive, usually only a handful register. For instance, someone in Toronto did and event where 7000 people attended and 200 registered online so they could get their kits at home. This is seen as a success although it is proportionally less than 20 people registering at Arisia. Also, many people in that 200 did not return their swabs.
Seventy-one people registered with no pressure on Saturday. There was almost always someone signing up at the table. There were sometimes 2 people but almost never 3 signing up. This made the event very orderly. The annual blood drive (which also had a record year) was a few tables away, and the fan who runs it also mentioned he has been in the registry for many years. He is also a regular platelet donor.
The Naughty Nurses performed skits on Friday night and on Saturday before other events to highlight the good work being done by the blood drive, and created a skit for marrow as well. Unfortunately, I got tied up and did not get to see it on Friday night (hmph).
Because of the success on Saturday, Darryl from the CRIR returned on Sunday and 19 more people signed up, making a total of 90 new registrants.
I also met quite a few people who were already registered. I met a very nice young woman who donated twice and saved a man's life. I met a teenager that received marrow when she was very young from a relative (unfortunately, her donor died two days later from completely unrelated circumstances, and instead of saying, "Someone saved my life in the nick of time." she had been telling people, "Someone donated to me and died two days later," making them think the donation was the cause - Sigh.)
No one was pressured into signing up. Quite a few people took information and said they did not know enough yet and wanted to learn more after the convention then decide, which is fine by me! Both Hema-Quebec and OneMatch have cited that one of the reasons they do not run drives is that people feel pressured to do it. BS. We told people it was happening, and we told people the facts.
With some preparation and the right materials available at the table, compassionate people came of their free will. The drive took up one table, and in addition to the swab kits and consent forms, a few boxes were brought with sweaters, bags and pins for registrants. I brought my pins and some of my Heal Emru business cards.
My friend Val made this happen and has begun the work for another drive next month at Boskone. She and I will be there, too.
Some people could not be marrow donors, so we directed them to the blood drive if they were eligible, and the blood drive did the same for us. Emru would not have lived to see his transplant if he had not received transfusions to keep him alive. (I say this in addition to ALL the great reasons to give blood).
The event was much more emotional for me than I thought it would be, but it felt great and I also heard many positive stories related to the issue and received lots of excellent feedback.
January 14, 2009
This is the first US bone marrow drive in which I will assist, and I look forward to meeting you and answering questions.
MAJOR UPDATE 2nd Day Added!
Sunday 11:00am ~ 3:00pm
SAVE THE DATE!
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
10:00am ~ 6:30pm
Hyatt Regency, Cambridge
Arisia 2009 Science Fiction Convention
Representatives of the Caitlin Raymond International Registry and volunteers from the fannish community will be running an information table and registry drive. Registration itself is simple and painless: all you have to do is swab your cheek and fill out a form. To register you must be between the ages of 16 and 60 and in general good health.
Legislators in several US states have passed laws that make it mandatory for most insurance companies operating in these states to pay the cost of registration. Please bring your health insurance card with you. If you live in RI, NH, or MA you can register at this event at no cost.
More than 35,000 patients per year, many of them children, are diagnosed with diseases treatable by marrow or stem cell transplant. These diseases include leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers and genetic diseases.
Many people do not consider donating because they may not know they can help, but also because they have misconceptions about the donation process. The drive is a great venue for getting your questions answered.
When someone needs a bone marrow transplant and none of their family members are a match, the registry searches for a donor whose tissue type profile is compatible. 70% of people requiring a transplant need an unrelated donor.
A person looking for a stem cell match may find one potential donor in a pool of 20,000, or 1,000,000, or more. The most likely match for someone is a person of the same or a similar ethnic background. No one is guaranteed a match, regardless of background, but ethnic minorities are especially underrepresented and patients have even less chance of finding a matching donor.Then they have to hope that person is on the registry. You might be the match necessary to save a life.
The inspiration for this drive is the thousands of people who are waiting on any given day for a donor.
One of them was Emru Townsend, a fan and critic. Instead of writing about animation, comics, and technology, last year he spent his time writing about how people could save his life, or that of someone just like him at healemru.com. This drive is in his memory.
Arisia will also be holding its annual blood drive. Less than 40% of North Americans are eligible to give blood, so if you are, please also consider helping to save lives and in a more immediate manner: http://2009.arisia.org/blooddrive.