Alexander Brothers is a junior at Kennett High School in Kennett Square, PA. He conducted a bone marrow registration drive to educate his community about the need for unrelated marrow donors, and to increase the size and diversity of the National Marrow Donor Registry.
As a regular volunteer at the Delaware Ronald McDonald House, Alexander often meets children who have life-threatening blood diseases but could be cured with a marrow transplant from an unrelated volunteer donor. The need is particularly great among minority populations, since they are underrepresented in the national registry, he said.
“Because I live in an ethnically diverse community, I realized it was the perfect location to base a marrow donor registry drive.” After enlisting the help of Boy Scout leaders and the Hispanic and African American service clubs at his school, Alexander formed a volunteer steering committee. He then designed a logo, selected a date for the daylong drive, prepared a timeline, and assigned subcommittees to handle publicity, fund-raising, registration, operations, and hospitality.
To get the word out, Alexander and his fellow volunteers contacted churches and social groups, posted flyers all over town, and set up an information hotline in Spanish and English. They also raised nearly $5,000 to pay for non-minority tissue typing by soliciting donations from local businesses and selling novelty items at community events. After nine months of planning and preparation, Alexander’s drive succeeded in adding dozens of new names to the National Marrow Donor Registry and making people throughout his community aware of the importance of marrow donors.
“The experience showed me how many good and caring people there are in my community and that they come from all ethnic backgrounds,” said Alexander.