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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 10, 2004

Marrow Registration Drive Scheduled At Simpson College

Simpson College will host its second annual marrow donor registration drive from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16 in the Great Hall on campus. The public is invited to participate.

November is National Marrow Donor Awareness Month. At Simpson College's first drive in November 2003, 205 people joined the registry. The story of Simpson College's assistant men's basketball coach, Steve Ellens, inspired that first donor drive. Ellens was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in May 2002. He is currently in remission, but should current therapy fail he will need a marrow or blood stem cell transplant. Through his own experience, Ellens has learned what it means to be diagnosed with a disease for which the only cure may be a matched, unrelated donor's marrow or blood stem cells.

At University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, there are now six patients in need of an unrelated donor transplant. Donor searches have not yet identified a suitable match. The ongoing need to increase the size of the registry is evident in their stories. Their hope is that the addition of people to the registry through current donor drives will produce a suitable match and give them a chance to live.

Each year, more than 30,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with diseases treatable by a stem cell transplant. Of the patients needing to receive healthy stem cells from someone else, only 30 percent have a suitable family match, leaving the additional 70 percent to rely on unrelated donors. 

The Iowa Marrow Donor Program seeks committed volunteers, ages 18 to 60 and in general good health. When joining the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, a person's tissue type becomes registered as part of the Iowa and National Marrow Donor Programs' registries. Once registered, a volunteer may be called upon to donate marrow or blood stem cells to a person needing a transplant to fight a life-threatening disease. Registration is easy, requiring completion of a simple consent form and a small blood sample. 

The Iowa Marrow Donor Program was created in 1981 and became affiliated with the National Marrow Donor Program in 1991. On average, 25 to 30 donors are called to donate each year from the Iowa Marrow Donor Program's registry of 20,007 persons, and many more are called for further testing. Approximately 2,000 people join the Iowa and national registries each year through the Iowa Marrow Donor Program. 

For more information about the donor drive or to receive application forms, call the Iowa Marrow Donor Program toll free at 800-944-8220 or locally at 319-356-3337. For more information regarding the donor drive, please contact Steve Ellens at 515-961-1855. For more information regarding the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, please contact Debra Hoyle, membership coordinator of the Iowa Marrow Donor Program, by e-mail at Information about the program can be found online at

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,