PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — Santa Monica police officers need the public’s help, but this time it’s not to identify a hit-and-run driver or a suspect in a robbery. It’s to help save the lives of those suffering from Leukemia and other diseases in which the only cure is a bone marrow transplant.
In connection with the National Marrow Donor Program and Officers Give Hope, the SMPD is hosting a bone marrow registry drive today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Public Safety Facility, 333 Olympic Dr. The goal is to identify potential donors for the benefit of three local police officers and many others around the world, said SMPD Sgt. Renaldi Thruston, who helped organize the drive.
“There was already a drive scheduled at another location farther away for a (California Highway Patrol) officer who was diagnosed with cancer,” Renaldi said. “I wanted to do something on the Westside so we can have more people involved and participate.”
The officers who need help are Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Corrales, Torrance Police Officer Steve Kroesen , and Los Angeles Port Police Officer William Paxson. All three are suffering from leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Organizers said it would be good to find donors for the officers, but the point of the drive is to find matches for those in need from across the globe.
In 2008, about 44,270 adults and 4,220 children were expected to develop the disease, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for a life-saving donor. For many, a transplant may be the best and only hope for a cure.
But finding a donor can be extremely difficult. For a successful transplant, the tissue type of a bone marrow donor or a cord blood unit needs to match the patient’s as closely as possible. Special testing determines whether a patient and bone marrow donor or cord blood unit are a good match. The closer the match, the better for the patient.
It is especially difficult to find donors who are of mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds. Those from the following communities are urged to register:
n African American
n American Indian and Alaska native
n Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
n Multiple race
“It’s really important for minorities and those of mixed race to donate and become registered because when you are looking for a match a lot of factors go into it and your genetic makeup is obviously a key factor,” Thruston said. “If you just have one race or group, your chances of finding a match are slim. Diseases like leukemia can effect anyone.”
The SMPD drive is free to the public. The process is quick and easy, Thruston said. Those interested answer a short medical questionnaire and a swab is used to collect a DNA sample. Anyone age 18 to 60 who meet the health guidelines and who are committed to helping a patient in need may join.
For more information on the guidelines and to read about myths associated with donating bone marrow, go to www.marrow.org.