Phillips Library hosting fall registry drive for bone marrow donor program

Angela Ozanic

Aurora University physical education major Angela Ozanic, a student worker in Phillips Library, twice donated bone marrow to her sister during her junior year.

Inspired by an Aurora University student worker, Phillips Library plans to host a registry drive this fall for the National Marrow Donor Program so more people who suffer from blood cancer will get a chance for a cure.

Many library staff members have already registered through Be The Match, which requires just a few swabs from the inner cheek. They were motivated by the actions of AU physical education major Angela Ozanic, who twice donated bone marrow during the 2011-2012 school year to help her ailing sister.

Most days during the school year, Ozanic can be found behind the Circulation Desk at Phillips Library cheerfully checking out laptops, books and DVDs. But for a few days during her junior year, in September and again in April, the Woodstock, Ill., native was not at her usual post. She was at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago donating bone marrow and stem cells to her older sister and only sibling, Gina, who suffers from acute myeloid leukemia.

It turned out that Ozanic was a perfect match to serve as bone marrow donor for her sister, but she was bothered by the number of people in the hematology and oncology ward at the hospital who didn’t have a match.

“I will be here for the rest of my life to donate to my sister if she needs it, but these people don’t have anyone like that,” she said. “I’d like to see more people get on the registry. Getting on the registry is free and so easy to do. And the donation process itself is not that difficult and can save someone’s life.”

Donating bone marrow used to be a painful surgical procedure, but now most donations are nonsurgical and donors go home from the hospital the same day. The process involves getting shots in advance to move the marrow and stem cells into the blood stream, and then blood is taken from both arms and wrists over an eight-hour period. The side effects are minimal and might include a numb and tingly body from depleted calcium and feeling tired and sick for about a day.

Kay Culhane, Access Services Manager at Phillips Library, has been on the bone marrow donor registry for years, although she has never been summoned to donate. As Ozanic’s supervisor, she supported her student worker as she spent time away from the library helping her sister.

“Angela is one of our excellent student workers here in Phillips Library,” Culhane said. “She has always been dependable and reliable, and we were happy to support her any way we could.”

Visit www.marrow.org for more information.