USF Students Give Body and Soul

Students in Dr. Amy Obringer’s 2014 advanced physiology and pathophysiology course responded strongly to a special speaker who outlined the importance of bone marrow donations—they joined a bone marrow registry.

“I was teaching this course, and asked Lola Trammell Woolums to speak to my class,” Obringer said. “She is a non-traditional-age student who had been in one of my courses. She was a nursing student, although I am not sure if she could complete her degree because her mother became ill.”

Woolums spoke about her father’s battle with polycythemia vera, a cancer of a stem cell in red blood cell development, to support Obringer’s goal for students to learn about the emotional and personal side of a particular disease. Woolums’ father received a bone marrow/stem cell transplant from his sister, but passed away later.

She also spoke about her mother's battle with multiple myeloma, another blood cell cancer affecting the plasma cells. Her mother is scheduled for stem cell therapy involving her own cells.

“In the course of Lola's talk, she spoke about Be the Match registry, and offered information about the diseases that have been cured through bone marrow transplant,” Obringer said. USF students responded by signing up for the registry, and raised $400 through a bake sale to cover the suggested donor costs. An anonymous benefactor then matched their bake sale funds.

If selected, all surgical fees are covered. However, the suggested $100 donation per person defrays some costs. Students filled out the application and provided a cheek swab of their DNA, so the genetic markers necessary to match with a potential recipient can be entered in the Be the Match database. They can be called at any time, up to the age of 61, as a suitable match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant.

The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 60 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs in five schools: The School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence. The university has a regional campus in Crown Point, Ind.

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