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Alums Share Story To Kick Off Marrow Week

Raising awareness about bone marrow registration, especially among minorities

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May 23, 2011 | by Amy Weiss

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Alumni Keith Alperin and Karen Stock know firsthand how important it is to donate bone marrow.

Alperin, who signed up for a bone marrow registry drive on campus in 1996, and Stock will share their story in a presentation that kicks off Marrow Week, a series of events from May 23 to 26, hosted by Northwestern’s Minorities Awareness Registry Organization (MARO for Marrow).

In 2009, Alperin was notified that he was a match and anonymously donated stem cells to Stock. After several months of corresponding through anonymous letters, Stock’s family members were able to identify the donor as someone they knew -- a fellow Northwestern alum. 

Their story was published in the Winter 2010 issue of Northwestern Magazine, and the two will speak to members of the Northwestern community at 5:15 p.m. in Room G40 and 7:00 p.m. in Kellogg's Owen L. Coon Forum, both located in the Donald P. Jacobs Center at 2001 Sheridan Road. 

Alice Ling, a senior in the School of Communication and a former MARO co-president, said the event is designed to dispel preconceived notions about donating bone marrow. MARO’s goal is to increase awareness about bone marrow donation and minority marrow donors. 

“People think joining the registry entails giving marrow, but it’s just a five-minute cheek swab,” Ling explained.

“People also think [donating marrow] is a painful, arduous, time-consuming process, which is not true,” Ling continued. “Seventy percent of the time they filter out stem cells from blood instead of sticking a big needle in your back. And donors don’t pay anything.” 

MARO will hold registry drives in various locations on campus, and members will be on hand to answer questions about bone marrow donation Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.