Office of the Mayor-President

For release: IMMEDIATELY

Release Date: 08/14/2014

Capital Area Residents Urged to Register for Bone Marrow Donation

Mayor-President Kip Holden, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and “Be the Match” have launched a 90-day bone marrow donation drive that runs through November 1. Registration drives will be held throughout East Baton Rouge Parish in an effort to sign up as many potential donors as possible.

Registering is easy and only requires filling out a medical questionnaire and a quick cheek swab.

The drive officially kicked off Tuesday, Aug. 12, with a helping hand from Sally-Ann Roberts, a WWL-TV news anchor in New Orleans who grabbed national headlines for donating bone marrow to her famous sister, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America.

Sally-Ann Roberts noted that only 7 percent of the 10 million people on the national bone marrow registry are African American, making it often very difficult for those who have to go outside their family to find donations. She noted that less than a third of bone marrow donations are between family members.

WWL held several registration drives on the Robin Roberts' behalf, and GMA fans also signed up for the registry. As a result, more than 40,000 people joined the registry, she said.

When he saw Roberts' story, Mayor Holden said he approached the Mary Bird Perkins -- Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center and asked what could be done to help here in Baton Rouge. Doctors came up with the idea of the 90-day challenge, which consists of several events around the city to encourage people to sign up as donors.

“For the donor, the preparation and time investment is minimal considering what it means for the recipient,” said Holden. “For someone needing a transplant, finding the right match means staying alive and keeping their family intact. For me, I think about how I would feel it was me or a family member who needed a transplant and what finding a match would mean. It’s just the greatest gift you can give.”

Dr. Vince Cataldo, an oncologist and hematologist from Mary Bird Perkins -- Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, said people often choose not to sign up because they are under the false impression that donating will be painful.

"Getting on the registry is pain-free, and if you're fortunate enough to be able to save a life through donation, being a donor is pain-free," Dr. Cataldo said.

To sign up for the donor registry, a person must be between 18 and 44 years old, and meet certain health criteria.

Renea Duffin, VP of Cancer Support and Outreach for the cancer center, said the 90-day drive has a relatively modest goal of signing up 250 donors and includes the following six planned events:

• Wednesday, August 13: Bon Carre Business Center, 7359 Florida Blvd, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Wednesday, August 20: Southern University's Smith Brown Memorial Union, 500 Jesse N. Stone, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
• Saturday, August 23: Men’s Wellness, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Friday, September 5: Stand Up to Cancer Viewing Party, Perkins Rowe Shopping Center, 10202 Perkins Road, 6-8 p.m.
• Monday, September 22: Matching Matters (Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge Women Week Event), Our Lady of the Lake Heart and Vascular Institute, 7777 Hennessy Blvd, 12-1 p.m. (RSVP is required, please call (225) 215-1288)
• Sat., November 1: Southern University “Pink Week” Tailgate Event, A.W. Mumford Stadium, 801 Harding Blvd., 1-5 p.m.

For more information, call (225) 215-1234 or visit Any organization, group or club interested in scheduling a registration drive should call (225) 910-4872.