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Gift of Life Gives Hope to Cancer Patients

By: Reed Blaszczyk


Bellarmine senior Bailey Venard attended a fundraising event for pediatric cancer her senior year of high school. An organization called the Gift of Life had an information table set up, and it caught Venard’s attention when she learned she could help save a life. Venard said she felt the need to join the registry because she was young and healthy and had a desire to help others.


“I really felt like I could help save the lives of those in need of stem cell and bone marrow transplants,” Venard said.


Last year, Venard created the Bellarmine University Pre-Efficient Association Society to get service hours for the semester. Gift of Life offered her a campus ambassador position, and she held table events to find other young, healthy people to join the registry and potentially save lives.


Gift of Life is a nationwide organization and its mission is to cure blood cancer through cellular therapy. People give a simple swab of both cheeks and are put into a registry where they can be matched with a patient who needs a stem cell or a bone marrow transplant.


The organization has recorded 465,091 donors, and 30,969 have been matched with a patient.


The procedures that are used to harvest bone marrow or stem cells are both outpatient procedures and donors recover within a week.


“I have been in the registry since I was 18. It is something I am passionate about since it takes something so little from the healthy donor and can be life saving for the patient,” Venard said.


Anyone matched with a patient will first have an echocardiogram to check heart rhythm, several blood tests to check the condition of organs such as lungs and liver, and a COVID-19 test.


“Bailey Venard, our president, had many connections in the organization and reached out. We then all got training to be able to do this booth starting it last year and continuing it through this year,” Pre-Efficient Society Vice President Elli Driver said.


The Bellarmine Pre-Efficient Society formed a partnership with Gift of Life last year to recruit people to be in the registry.



“One of my roommates’ dads had a bone marrow transplant from a man in Poland which saved his life. That touched me deeply and was told about this opportunity with the Gift of Life so that’s a main reason why I joined the registry,” BU student donor Hailee Gerth said.


Gift of Life held an event on BU campus last year and recently worked with Alpha Phi Omega at another table event last month.



Last year, the organization added 50 donors to the registry from one BU event. One donor, who was not from BU, was matched with a patient and was able to provide a life-saving treatment to help a 65-year-old suffering from leukemia.


“This year we hope to add even more so we can continue to make a difference in the lives of those in need,” Venard said.



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