Spirit of Alabama: Student organization searches for life-saving matches


By WVUA 23 News Reporter Elise Anzaldua

The University of Alabama campus is known for having a multitude of organizations to get students involved. But one is after more than meet-and-greets and parties: They’re trying to save lives.

Be the Match UA is a student organization looking to add students to the national Be the Match bone marrow registry to match with a blood cancer patient.

Getting registered as a potential donor is easy. It’s a swab on the inside of your mouth and a little bit of paperwork. If you wind up as someone’s match,

Be the Match Account Manager Melinda Garringer said every person who registers gets them one step closer to finding a life-saving match.

“There are certain markers that we’re looking for,” she said. “It’s all based on ethnicity and your DNA. We want to make sure that the DNA of the donor matches well enough with the patient so that the patient’s immune system won’t reject that transplant.”

Be the Match UA is currently searching for a match for UA alumna Dani Stafford, who is battling her third round of Leukemia.

Stafford graduated from the university in 2011 to become a professional dancer. But her dream career took a stark turn when she received the life-changing diagnosis.

“In a matter of days I had to quit my dream job, was diagnosed with cancer, moved back in with my mom and started intense chemo for leukemia,” she said.

Stafford was fortunate enough to find a match last year. The reprieve gave her a year of her life back.

“I got to go to my brother’s wedding, I got another year of marriage with my husband, I got to go to the beach”, said Stafford. “There are so many things I got to do because of this 37-year-old male who decided, ‘yeah, I’ll do the cheek swab.’ ”

But while the match was a short-term miracle, it was not a cure.

Stafford’s cancer is back and she’s searching for another donor.

But her story shares just how easy it is to join the registry and help save someone’s life.

“When I’m done with this, I am dedicated to Be the Match, signing up donors, and knowing that one less person has to go through what I have gone through”, said Stafford.

If you’re interested in joining the registry, you can learn more and get everything you need right here.

Categories: Spirit of Alabama