Retired Maui Firefighter Hopes for Marrow Match

April 30, 2012, 2:30 PM HST · Updated April 30, 2:31 PM
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The bone marrow drive will take place this Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Kahului, photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry will be on Maui for a bone marrow drive this Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Kahului.

Recently retired Maui Fire Captain, Lance Wendel, was diagnosed with leukemia and is on a mission to not only find a donor for himself, but other patients awaiting transplants.

Lance and his fellow firefighters are volunteering their time to assist the staff of the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry in educating the public about the importance of becoming donors for patients in Hawaii and beyond.

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Donors must meet health guidelines set forth by the registry, and must be willing to donate to anyone in need.

The Registry is focusing on younger marrow donors to give patients the best chance at successful transplants; however, the current age requirement to register is between 18 and 60.

The mission of the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry is to facilitate successful hematopoietic stem cell transplants through the recruitment and registration of volunteers to serve as donors for the state’s multi-ethnic population.

The Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry was founded in 1989 at St. Francis Medical Center and joined the National Marrow Donor Program to help patients in Hawaii and all over the world find healthy and willing bone marrow or blood stem cell donors.

According to registry data, only 30% of patients will find matching donors within their families; therefore, others need to find unrelated matches. Matches are also more easily found between people of the same ethnic background.

Since 1989, approximately 78,000 registered donors have been recruited throughout Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa. More than 329 of those donors have actually donated bone marrow or blood stem cells for patients all over the world.

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