GLENDALE–Hundreds from across southern California crowded the sidewalks in Glendale on Saturday, November 13, walking from Glendale Memorial Hospital to Verdugo Park as part of the fifth annual Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry ‘Walk of Life.’
The walk-a-thon was organized to raise awareness about bone marrow diseases among Armenians and to register potential bone marrow donors who could be matches for Armenian patients. Finding bone marrow matches for Armenians and other sub-ethnic groups is very complex and difficult, according to organizers.
Founded in 1999, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry has cultivated an international registry of about 20,000 donors. But donor viability expires with age and the organization has to continually recruit to keep its database current and effective.
Recent advances in technology, however, have helped the registry push its cause forward. Previously, donors were put through a painful procedure wherein marrow was drawn directly from their hip bone. Now, thanks to a revolutionary new method, doctors draw blood, isolate the cells they need, and return the remaining blood to the donor. The procedure takes about four hours and can have life saving consequences.