Olympian appeals for marrow donors at Austin College - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Olympian appeals for marrow donors at Austin College

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Olympic gold medalist Earl Young talks to Austin College students about marrow donation. (KTEN) Olympic gold medalist Earl Young talks to Austin College students about marrow donation. (KTEN)
Olympic athlete Earl Young keeps his gold medal nearby as he speaks with Austin College students. (KTEN) Olympic athlete Earl Young keeps his gold medal nearby as he speaks with Austin College students. (KTEN)
An Austin College student swabs her mouth for a sample to be added to a bone marrow registry. (KTEN) An Austin College student swabs her mouth for a sample to be added to a bone marrow registry. (KTEN)
Austin College senior Benjamin Sloan launched a bone marrow registration drive after seeing how a marrow transplant prolonged his father's life. (KTEN) Austin College senior Benjamin Sloan launched a bone marrow registration drive after seeing how a marrow transplant prolonged his father's life. (KTEN)

SHERMAN, Texas -- Austin College senior Benjamin Sloan has been personally affected by what a medical procedure can do after his father was diagnosed with leukemia.

"He received a bone marrow transplant, which I was really thankful for, because it prolonged his life by at least six months," Sloan said.

So he organized a three-day bone marrow donor registration drive at his school.

"This is the first bone marrow donor drive that's actually been held here, and we're hoping to continue this tradition with the men's soccer team," Sloan said.

The drive is getting some extra help from a special guest: 1960 Olympic gold medalist Earl Young.

"The gold medal changes your life," he said. 

But there's something else that also changed Young's life: A battle with acute myeloid leukemia seven years ago.

"Because a lady in Offenburg, Germany, became a bone marrow donor in 2011, when I needed a bone marrow donor, I'm alive today," Young said.

The track-and-field athlete has been traveling all over the country since 2015 helping potential donors add their names to the bone marrow registry.

"We've swabbed over 11,000 people; we've had 34 lives given extension through a bone marrow transplant," Young said.

According to the blood cancer organization DKMS, about 14,000 Americans will need a bone marrow transplant every year, but fewer than half of them will find a donor.

"And it's not because there aren't plenty of matching donors; it's because people don't know that they can become a matching donor and save a life," Sloan explained.

It's easy to add your name to the registry; just attend a donor drive and swab your mouth. Your information will be typed added to the database.

If you can't make it to a drive, you can go online and supplies will be sent to you. They'll keep your information on file and alert you if you're a match to save someone's life.

"It's a life-and-death message that we deliver," Sloan said. "The only cure that we have today for many of the types of blood cancers is a bone marrow transplant."

In order to be eligible to be a bone marrow donor, you must be between 18 and 55, live permanently in the U.S., be willing to donate to any patient in need, and be at least 4'-10" tall and 105 pounds.

The drive at Austin College is Wednesday and Thursday from 11-2 at the Wright Campus Center. On Saturday, the drive will be at the Sherman Arts Festival, at Piner Middle School, from 10-3. 

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