128 FLORIDA STATE ATHLETES, SPIRIT GROUPS AND MARCHING CHIEF MEMBERS GET SWABBED FOR NATIONAL MARROW DONOR REGISTRY
Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and wife Candi kicked off the 2013 football season with a Kidz1stFund-sponsored Bone Marrow Donor Drive with FSU student-athletes, spirit groups and the band on Friday. Invitations were extended to all student-athletes for the voluntary drive along with members of the Marching Chiefs and Seminole cheer and dance teams and 128 volunteers underwent the oral swab to register as donor matches for patients with varying diseases including Fanconi anemia that require a bone marrow transplant.
The Fisher’s first donor drive in 2011 registered over 100 Florida State football players and ended the year with almost 800 new entries to the registry. By May of 2012, Kidz1stFund-sponsored donor drives surpassed the previous year’s total providing over 1,700 new donors to the registry. In addition, the foundation uses the power of social media to raise mass awareness about the importance of joining the registry and saving lives.
In the spring of 2011, Ethan Fisher was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare and serious blood disease. Jimbo and Candi began Kidz1stFund later that fall to raise awareness and FA research dollars at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in hopes of finding a cure. Patients with FA may have a variety of health issues including short in stature, dark and light areas of skin, abnormalities of the arms and hands, kidney problems, heart defects, hearing problems and many others. Some patients have no physical manifestation, but nearly all will have a decline in their blood counts over time, eventually leading to bone marrow failure. FA is something present at birth. The FA genes are responsible for preventing cancer and bone marrow failure by repairing DNA damage that occurs in everyday life (from sun exposure, x-rays, chemicals in our food and surroundings). Without this restorative ability, people with FA have a significantly higher chance of developing certain types of cancers at a much earlier age than the general population.
“We have made it one of our Kidz1stFund goals to increase the registry,” said Coach Fisher. “We want to make sure that all patients needing an unrelated donor bone marrow transplant, like Ethan, will have the best chance possible to find a match when the time comes.”
Candi followed with, “Thousands of patients across the country diagnosed with cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, and blood disorders like sickle cell, Fanconi anemia, and many other life-threatening diseases, there are approximately 70 diseases in all, are in need of a bone marrow transplant. I am so very proud of these selfless young men and women from Florida State for joining the registry and becoming part of every patient’s search for a bone marrow donor.”
On Friday, Jimbo and Candi were joined by student volunteers from the FSU College of Medicine along with former FSU football star and 2012 FSU College of Medicine graduate, Dr. David Castillo. Castillo earned two undergraduate degrees while playing football for the Seminoles including starting at center as a junior and senior. FSU medical school student volunteers were on hand at the bone marrow donor drive to assist in the cheek swab registration process.
“I am proud to be here today to support the Fishers and Kidz1stFund in their effort to increase the national bone marrow registry,” said Dr. Castillo. “As a physician, I understand all too well the extreme challenges Ethan Fisher will endure in the coming years, having to face an exceptionally risky bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor as well as the constant scans for cancer as a result of his FA. I encourage everyone to join the registry and help those in need of a bone marrow transplant. It’s not every day a person gets the chance to save a life.”
To be a part of the national movement by joining the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) “Be The Match” registry, you must be between the ages of 18-44, meet the health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. Research shows that younger donors are best for patients because they provide the greatest chance for transplant success. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially critical. If you match, most donations are done through an automated blood donation, similar to a blood transfusion, with no surgery needed.
If you would like to know more about the bone marrow donation process, visit www.marrow.org.