Community drives look for bone marrow donors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, five local organizations dedicated to advocacy for childhood cancer research and awareness are collaborating to share the facts about childhood cancer, cord blood banking and bone marrow donation.

To become registered as a bone marrow donor, all that is required is a cheek swab and a willingness to help save a life. Each new registrant will be placed into the National Bone Marrow Registry, which matches pediatric and adult patients through the country with donors.

Any newly registered donor will receive a free iDcard ($30 value) from Isle Discount as a humble thank you.

Schedule of community bone marrow drives:

Sunday, September 4
Ward Big City Diner

Saturday, September 10
Kahala Mall

Friday, September 16
Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children Cafeteria

Saturday, September 17
Pearlridge Downtown

Sunday, September 18
Windward Mall

Saturday, September 24
CureSearch Walk at Kakaako Park

For more information on the September events and Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation, please visit the Hawaii Children's Cancer Foundation website:

Now 25 years old, Chantal Napalapalai is one example of a Hawaii childhood cancer survivor whose life was saved by a blood marrow donor. In 2001, at the age of 15, Napalapalai was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. After a relapse in November of last year, she underwent a bone marrow transplant. "I was truly blessed with a second chance at life from a non-related bone marrow donor," said Napalapalai.

"Donors typically match based on ethnic background, so you can imagine that here in Hawaii it is especially challenging for children to find a match, given the unique variety of ethnic mixes," said Randal K. Wada M.D., pediatric oncologist. Dr. Wada is the founder and medical director of the Hawaii Cord Blood Bank and Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry, as well as a transplant surgeon. "We strongly urge the public to attend a drive and register as a bone marrow donor; it's a simple process that can save the life of a keiki."

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