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Danny Feltwell (right) joins Detective Bill Wentz on the sidelines at a UD football game.
Danny Feltwell (right) joins Detective Bill Wentz on the sidelines at a UD football game.

Feb. 19: Be The Match marrow registry

Photo courtesy of Detective Bill Wentz and Be The Match

UD Police Department to host marrow registry event inspired by Newark boy battling cancer

The University of Delaware Police Department will host a “Be The Match” marrow registry event on Feb. 19 at two locations — the STAR Health Sciences Complex (540 South College Ave., Newark) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Perkins Student Center (325 Academy St., Newark) from noon to 4 p.m. No advance registration is required.

Be The Match runs the United States registry of volunteer stem cell/marrow donors. Marrow transplants are a cure for more than 80 diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, and autoimmune and genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease. Be The Match notes that 70 percent of patients will not have a fully matched donor in their family and will rely on the registry to find a life-saving donor.

The inspiration behind the effort is Danny Feltwell, a Newark-area boy battling T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma — a rare and very aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Danny became close with UD Detective Bill Wentz after getting to know him at UD football games. The Delaware native has undergone treatment off and on since 2012. He’s currently in Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children receiving chemotherapy. Wentz has personally rallied local support for Danny and the Feltwell family, and is the driving force behind the Feb. 19 event.

“It is my hope and Danny’s wish that many people come out to take part in this event. Danny and his family want to help everyone affected by cancer,” said Wentz. “Participating in this event can truly make a difference. Not only is there a chance to save Danny, but there is an opportunity to save many other lives.”

Joining the registry

The event is open and free to the UD students, UD employees and the general public ages 18 to 44 who are willing to donate to any patient in need (not just Danny) and meet the medical guidelines. There is no charge for those 18- to 44-year-old to join because Be The Match covers the cost. Individuals ages 45 to 60 are unable to register in person at the event; however, they may join online via a code set up in Danny’s honor. A registration fee of $100 is required to cover the cost of the testing. Be The Match focuses its funding on the 18 to 44 age group because 98 percent of donor matches come from that group.

The process of joining the registry takes 15 minutes and includes paperwork and a painless cheek swab — no needles or blood. Potential donors are listed on the Be The Match Registry until the age of 61. It is voluntary and a person can remove their name at any time.

One in 430 people will go on to donate to a patient in need. Donors never pay to donate; all costs are covered. If you’d like to register, but are unable to attend the registration event, please register via Danny’s link. A swab kit will be mailed to you in a prepaid return envelope.

Donor myths and truths

“Myths regarding the donation process prevent many people from joining in the first place,” said Aimee Haskew, Be The Match community engagement representative for the Mid-Atlantic region. “Many people believe the myths perpetuated by TV and movies that donating is incredibly painful with a long recovery time.”

In truth, most donors donate blood stem cells in a procedure similar to a platelet or plasma donation. Marrow donation is still done about 20 percent of the time, but is completed with the donor under general anesthesia. Most donors are back to school or work within a day or two of donating.

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