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Two Southern California Corrections Officers Spread the Word About Marrow Donations
By Julie Meigs Korinke
Published: 11/06/2017

Razorwire Jonathan Zumkehr and Lt. Michael Randall are officers at the Victorville Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville, Calif., and fierce advocates for marrow registration in Southern California’s High Desert communities.

Blood cancer has touched both of their lives. A few years ago, Michael was diagnosed with Stage 4 non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent surgery and intense treatment. His cancer is 18 months in remission. Jonathan has seen many friends, colleagues and acquaintances develop a blood cancer over the years – while some found successful matching marrow donors and received successful transplants, others have not.

The officers are passionate about raising awareness in Victorville and throughout neighboring High Desert communities about the need for more people to register as potential marrow donors by joining the national Be The Match Registry®. The registry is run by Be The Match®, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives by matching patients with donors for marrow transplants.

Inspired by Los Angeles Police Department Officer Matthew Medina’s search for a matching marrow donor, Be The Match launched a national campaign called Register & Respond. Many first responders are on the registry, have donated to patients, have received transplants or are searching for a match right now. The campaign goal is to urge more first responders to join the registry and inspire their communities to do the same—for Matt and the thousands of other patients in need of matching donors.

“First responders understand better than anyone the importance of stepping up when lives are on the line,” said Kim Allen, director, community engagement and national accounts. “When they get the call to donate, they’ll be there to respond. That’s why Be The Match partnered with first responders across the country to host donor registry drives and raise awareness about the need for more young, committed marrow donors to join the Be The Match Registry.”

Ahead of the campaign, Jonathan has coordinated a few local donor registry drives to raise awareness and increase the number of marrow donors on the registry, including a mud run. Working with friends and colleagues, he’s planning many more events. Michael is committed to spreading the word, driven by a personal goal to help others see “another Christmas, and spending time with those they love.” Joining the registry is a quick and easy process. People who are interested in joining the thousands that have already signed up to be committed donors can sign up from anywhere with internet access—home, work or even smartphones.

If a donor is called to be a match for a patient, Be The Match sets up the entire procedure. Most people give through a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation. A machine draws blood from one arm, extracts the cells it needs, and returns the remaining blood back to the body through the other arm. For some people, the doctor will need to extract marrow directly from the back of the donor’s pelvic bone with a needle. In this case, the donor receives anesthesia and feels no pain during the procedure.

To learn more or join the registry, visit https://www.youcouldbethecure.org/register2respond/.

Julie Meigs Korinke is a Community Engagement Representative in the Southwest District of Be The Match, Julie has been with the organization since 2014. She helps to grow and diversify the registry of marrow donors by building community partnerships, sharing patient and donor stories and education. Julie has a strong background in communications and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Chapman University.


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  2. Radiation Badge on 11/21/2017:

    My friend who was diagnosed with a rare cancer almost got to the point where he needed a marrow donor. I looked it up on YouTube. The process is really easy. It's basically like giving blood to see if you're a match for someone. But in the rare chance you are a match, the marrow giving is tough. They basically screw into your bone and suck out some marrow all while you're awake and feeling the pain. It looked really bad but I guess I would do it for a fellow human. My company, https://www.DosimeterBadge.com helps to monitor radiation exposure in the workplace so folks can avoid radiation exposure which is known to cause all kinds of cancer. Thanks for sharing this. Great article!

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