Representatives from Delete Blood Cancer DKMS collected DNA samples via cheek swabs from 821 students in Smith Union yesterday to check for possible matches with cancer patients in need of bone marrow. 

The organization worked with Dave Caputi, head coach of the football team, Andrew Lardie, associate director for service and leadership at the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good, and student volunteers coordinated through the athletic department.

“This is the best college I have ever done. The leadership, the administration…very few school administrations get behind a bone marrow drive like this one has,” said Donor Recruiter of DKMS New England Michael Guglielmo. “What an amazing campus.” 

With nearly half of the student body registering as potential donors, the day was a huge success for DKMS, an international nonprofit that is part of the largest bone marrow donor center in the world. College bone marrow donor drives generally register about 10 percent of an institution’s student body, and only one in three drives registers more than 100 people, according to Guglielmo.

“18- to 25-year-olds comprise over 40 percent of the bone marrow matches,” he said.  “So doing a bone marrow drive with the athletic department and all the athletes on campus in that demographic is just ideal.”

Guglielmo, who became involved with DKMS in January 2007, recently lost his son, Giovanni, to NEMO, a rare immune-deficiency disorder that can be treated with a bone marrow transplant.
Now he leads the largest bone marrow movement in New England, and  has registered over 65,000 people and found over 240 matches between donors and patients. After today’s huge turnout, Guglielmo plans to return to Bowdoin to hold first-year orientation drives and annual all-campus drives. 

“Once we start getting matches it’s just going to embolden the campus and solidify this movement here,” he said. “It’s not painful to be a bone marrow donor, but dying is.”