Glendale: Donors Take A Swab For Patients


Glendale News Press
July 25 2008

Participants in local drive give tissue to those in need of a bone
marrow transplant.

By Veronica Rocha Published: Last Updated Thursday, July 24, 2008
10:31 PM PDT

Jerry Pfau carefully swiped the inside of his mouth Wednesday with
four cotton swabs. The action made him an official member of the
National Marrow Donor Program.

The swabs will be sent to Minneapolis where scientists will analyze
cells and cross-match them with those of patients who need bone marrow
transplants, said Kim Ramos, City of Hope bone marrow recruitment

Glendale Adventist Medical Center and City of Hope in Duarte hosted
a three-day bone marrow drive on Saturday and at Fire Station 21 and
the medical center on Wednesday and Thursday.

"They [donors] will be cross-matched with different patients until
they are 61 years old," Ramos said.

Pfau, a Glendale Fire Department employee, had heard about the drive
at the department.

The drive was sparked by medical center patient and 43-year-old
Glendale resident Asatour Gasparyan, who needs bone marrow. The
drive has been aimed at the Armenian community, because research has
indicated that an Armenian donor would be the best match for Gasparyan,
medical center spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez said.

But donations are also needed for other bone marrow transplant

City of Hope, a cancer research hospital, helps patients look for
donors, City of Hope official Vivian Abernathy said.

"Once you need a bone marrow transplant, then you go to City of Hope,"
Abernathy said.

Bone marrow donations are generally given to local patients, so donors
don’t have to travel long distances, Ramos said.

City of Hope helps patients collect donations and conduct research
and transplants, she said.

Donors’ cell samples are registered with the bone marrow donor program,
Ramos said.

Donors’ personal information is kept private, so people who donate
for a specific patient won’t know if their cell samples went to that
person, Ramos said.

Some people who join the bone marrow donor programs have a change of
heart when their cell samples don’t match the person they had donated
for, she said.

"You have to be willing and able to donate to anybody," Ramos said.

Scientists take at least two months to process cell samples, she said.

Hasmisk Tovanyan drove from Ventura to Glendale on Thursday to donate
cell samples to the bone marrow donor program.

"I have always wanted to do it," Tovanyan said.

Tovanyan’s mother-in-law was ill several years ago and needed a bone
marrow transplant, she said.

Her mother-in-law was in the hospital for about five months until
she found a donor who matched her tissue type.

Tovanyan saw a flier about the bone marrow donor drive in Glendale
at a grocery store in Hollywood, she said.

"I could be saving someone’s life," she said.

On Wednesday, Pfau filled out a donor information form and was given
a membership card, indicating he was enrolled in the bone marrow
donor programs.

He was also given an envelope that contained a pamphlet with four
cotton swabs.

He used the cotton swabs to brush four spots inside his mouth.

"It’s just to get an accurate amount of cells," Ramos told Pfau.

Pfau said participating in the bone marrow donor program can help
many people.

"It just seems like the right thing to do," he said.