The Links to host marrow donor registration drive

Published 8:39 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Suffolk chapter of The Links Inc. will sponsor a bone marrow drive this weekend.

Donor Sabbath will begin at noon Sunday, immediately following services at East End Baptist Church, 523 E. Washington St. The event is open to anyone in the community, not just East End’s congregation, said chapter president MeChelle Blunt.

The drive is part of The Links’ nationwide signature campaign, “Linkages to Life: Organ, Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness.”

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The program’s goal is to educate the black community about the importance of healthy living, prevention and the need for organ, tissue and bone marrow donations, particularly among people of African descent.

“There is a dire need for donors,” said Blunt. A member of the Suffolk chapter who received a kidney transplant from her son will speak and medical professionals will be available for questions, she added.

“I compare being a donor to the concept of recycling,” said Blunt. “At your demise, your organs are no longer needed. You can help someone else, even save a life by donating.”

The Suffolk nonprofit’s goal for Sunday is to get cheek swabs from at least 25 people and register them into a national database that can be tapped when the need for a bone marrow donor arises, Blunt said.

The organization will provide supplies to perform cheek swabs and will enroll people in the registry, Blunt said.
The national initiative is in response to research that shows chronic health disparities, including lower life expectancies, among blacks and others of African ancestry, Blunt said.

The Links use their platform to advocate for healthy lifestyles, provide educational opportunities and make people aware of available health resources, Blunt said.

The Links’ local chapter serves Suffolk, Franklin and Southampton, Surry and Isle of Wight counties.