The following article appeared in the Enterprise Ledger on April 13.
Local Boy Scout of Troop 150, Dale Chambers, is hosting a bone marrow drive on Thursday, April 16, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Wallace Community College in Dothan.
Chambers is hosting this drive as his Eagle Scout project. The 13-year-old is hoping to change many lives with this drive.
“I want to help other people, and I know that I can’t donate because I’m only 13, but if I can help someone else save a life then that’s what I want to do,” said Chambers.
The drive will take place at Cherry Hall, 1141 Wallace Drive, in Dothan. Before coming to the drive, people wishing to donate should be sure they meet the following requirements: are between the ages of 18 and 44; in general good health; and willing to donate to any patient they match.
Potential donors will sign a form with personal information and have their cheek swabbed. Swabs will be placed on a list and matched with patients in need of bone marrow transplants through Be The Match.
Be The Match aims to grow their registry to find a match for all patients, and connecting the donors to their patients.
Donors will receive a phone call if they have been matched with a patient. From there, Be The Match funds travel to the closest city available to take donations: Jacksonville, Atlanta, or Birmingham. Donors can expect to spend about three to four hours getting the donation taken.
“Most people think it’s surgery, but it’s not,” said Chambers. “It’s more like giving blood. They’ll remove the stem cells from your blood and go from there. It isn’t painful either. You might be a little sore the next day, but it’s nothing like what people think it is.”
The whole process, from the swab to actually donating is expected to be about three weeks. Anyone who wishes to sign up, but cannot attend on April 15 can go to Chambers’ personal site on Be The Match at www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/helpdalehelpriley. Be The Match will send an home kit to complete the paperwork and swab.
Through this journey Chambers has found a friend in Riley Bonner. The 10 year-old of Opelika, Alabama was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia in January. This disease requires Bonner to stay out of school indefinitely to avoid germs due to a high risk of infection. Bonner is also required to have frequent blood transfusions. When patients like Bonner need a bone marrow transplant, a matching tissue type is required, not a matching blood type.
“The community has been so great and supportive,” said Chambers. “I wanted to make situations like Riley’s known and help all that I could. I wanted to do a project that matters, and I think this is it. I want to thank Wallace, and all the nurses willing to volunteer.”
During the process of setting up the drive, Chambers has learned about leadership. Leadership is a big part of being awarded the honor of Eagle Scout. Chambers discovered what it means to be a leader by setting up the drive, talking to public relations at Wallace, and even discussing his cause to nursing classes at the school.
“I got to see what adults have to deal with every day, and wow it’s a lot,” said Chambers.
Anyone that wishes to make a donation to Be The Match can make donations at Chambers’ personal page at Be The Match. It costs $100 to add each new donor to the Be The Match registry, so donations are also welcome at the drive.