OGDEN, Utah – Second Lt. Stephanie Fox, an Army Reserve soldier, donates time as a match drive volunteer for the Department of Defense Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program that finds critical bone marrow matches, which help save lives.
According to Fox, currently assigned to the 172nd Multifunctional Medical Battalion, only 2 percent of the population are ever a match and that is why a large database of possible donors is needed.
“Military donors are perfect for donation. We are healthy and fit the donation age requirement ages of 18-60,” said Fox.
Today Fox is making a difference. She has begun setting up bone marrow collection points in both Army Reserve centers and at her civilian job. Fox serves as the Park University director located on Hill Air Force Base and uses volunteers from both locations to collect samples for the national database.
The collection process is quick and painless. A cotton swab is used to collect saliva from the donor and the sample is shipped off to be stored and filed for possible matches.
“I think we are all connected in the grand scheme of things,” said Fox. “Our actions and behaviors affect one another and sometimes we can affect people in a big or small way”.
Each year more than 12,000 people are diagnosed with diseases requiring an infusion of stem cells. Often family members will not be a match.
As a teenager, Fox lived in Ramstein, Germany, and remembers watching television commercials about bone marrow collection on the American Forces Network. Learning about the difficulties and illnesses faced by adults and children motivated her to make a difference within her community as an adult.
“Soldiers new to the Army Reserve that want to contribute to their local community may not know where to start,” said Fox. “I believe this is a great place to begin.”
Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young founded the DOD Marrow Donor Recruitment and Research Program in 1990 and began recruiting donors in 1991. The program coordinates marrow and hematopoietic stem cell donations from military personnel and civilian DOD employees.
According to the DOD Marrow Donor Recruitment website, more than 800,000 individuals have joined the registry and have completed more than 6,000 successful marrow and stem cell donations.
“Life is unpredictable. You do not know what is going to happen tomorrow or five to 10 years from now,” said Fox. “You have the power to potentially save someone’s life.”