Oklahoma Christian University’s co-curricular organization Eagles Health Initiative offered students the opportunity to enter the bone marrow donor registry during freshman orientation.
According to founder and former president of EHI Jackson Higginbottom, this was the first time the organization hosted a bone marrow registry event during Earn Your Wings.
“The last two years we’ve been getting everyone on campus, meaning the older students wouldn’t be eligible to reapply,” Higginbottom said. “Freshmen are 400—500 students who have most likely never signed up for the bone marrow registry. So the leaders of EHI decided to have it during Earn Your Wings.”
Higginbottom said the number of student participants has increased since EHI took over the swabbing event.
“The year before Eagles Health Initiative took it on, student life hosted that event on campus,” Higginbottom said. “I believe they had about 55 students swabbed. The first year Eagles Health Initiative took it up, we had 125 students swabbed and so we doubled that number in just our first year.”
Current EHI president Whitney Hall said about a third of the incoming freshman students were swabbed during the event on campus.
“This is the first time we actually did it at freshman orientation,” Hall said. “We had a good turnout. We ended up having 170 out of the 550 freshmen swabbed during Earn Your Wings.”
According to Hall, there are certain qualifications a donor must meet, but the actual swabbing does not take much time.
“After they went through the check-in process, we showed them a three-minute video that went through the qualifications and what you had to meet in order to swab,” Hall said. “You have to be a certain age. Some health qualifications are involved and, once they have agreed to the qualifications and they put in their information, they would walk through the actual swabbing and, with that, they just swab their cheek.”
Jeff McCormack, the faculty sponsor for EHI, said an aspiration for the bone barrow registry events is to someday find a student who might be a match for someone in need of a transplant.
“There’s always a dream — a goal that at some point we would have a student here that was selected as a match and to be a bone marrow donor for someone who needs a transplant,” McCormack said. “It’s a pretty amazing opportunity to give to someone. You’re literally giving life to someone, and it’s only because of who you are as a person.”
McCormack said even if a student is not selected to be a donor, there is something to be said for students who simply choose to be swabbed in the first place.
“Just that someone has made a decision to help, that’s a pretty big step,” McCormack said. “I think it’s really neat that students are stepping up and saying ‘yeah, I’m available to help, put me on the list. Count me in.’”