Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has won Michigan’s 2020 Be the Match Medical School Challenge after signing up the most potential bone marrow donors.

OUWB wins Michigan’s 2020 Be the Match Medical School Challenge
An image highlighting OUWB's 2020 Be The Match kickoff

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has won Michigan’s 2020 Be the Match Medical School Challenge after signing up the most potential bone marrow donors.

A representative of Be the Match confirmed Dec. 1 that OUWB successfully signed up 51 potential donors to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) during the month-long campaign that kicked off on Oct. 15.

OUWB bested medical schools from Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, and Wayne State University — all aiming to sign up as many potential donors as possible.  

OUWB not only won the competition, but beat the previous record of 50 registrants for its own annual bone marrow registry drive, said Stephanie Swanberg, MSI, associate professor, Information Literacy & eLearning Librarian

“The ‘school that cares’ immediately comes to mind — our values of compassion and collaboration truly embodied this year's drive,” she said.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we, as an entire community, came together remotely to help change the world for the better, even if just in a small way,” Swanberg added.

OUWB’s 2020 bone marrow drive can be traced to 2012, when the school held its first organ donor registration drive in conjunction with a statewide effort called Michigan Libraries for Life. Swanberg said libraries get involved as an extension of their everyday service-based offerings and that more than 150 libraries participate.

In most years, OUWB is the only participant that does a dual organ donor and bone marrow donor registration drive. OUWB added the bone marrow registration drive to its annual campaign in 2014, when OUWB’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) chapter proposed expanding the school’s organ donor drive to include a bone marrow donor registration component.

For 2020, the campaign was a combined effort of the OUWB SNMA, OU Cancer Awareness Society, Be the Match at OU, OUWB Diversity & Inclusion, and the OUWB Medical Library. It was conducted entirely online.

While Swanberg said she was elated that OUWB won the statewide competition, she noted that it was really all about potentially helping those in need of bone marrow donations.

Bone marrow donations have the ability to help with more than 70 diseases that can be treated by a blood stem cell transplant, including leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell disease, inherited immune disorders, and more.

Matches are based on genetic typing involved Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). According to NMDP, there’s a one in 430 chance that a potential donor will match with a patient. Last year, 9,780 patients did not find a match on the registry.

“Our annual OUWB Organ & Bone Marrow Drive has always focused on the health needs of the greater community,” she said. “It is not only a shared community service event for OUWB and OU, but also an event directly supporting Be the Match's mission to improve the health and lives of patients with blood and bone marrow diseases and cancers.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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