Health Student Brings Life Saving Organizations to Campus

Health students stand next to their informational table in the MSC.

Aggies volunteer for the "Be the Match" Drive.
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: November 30, 2012

With over 800 student organizations at Texas A&M University, it can be tough to stand out and spread your message. But after an internship with Be The Match, Taylor Whittaker was inspired and ready to take on the challenge.

Be The Match, an international bone marrow registry connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving transplant. Seventy percent of patients cannot find a match in their family, so they use the registry to find a donor.

Be The Match was established in 1987, but Be The Match on Campus groups only started a year ago. Whittaker made Texas A&M one of the first five schools nationally to take on this challenge.

“I came up with the idea of creating this organization so Be The Match can always have a foot on campus,” she said.

Whittaker went through the process of establishing Be The Match TAMU and quickly recruited four additional officers, all of who come from different majors.

Morgan Buchanan, Communications – Vice President
Jackie Wenzlaff, Forensic & Investigative Sciences – Treasurer
Melissa Stuebben, Genetics – Director of Event Planning
Kaci DeCock, Biomedical Engineering – Director of Marketing & Public Relations
“What’s really unique is that each one of these students will choose a different path after graduation. Some will not go into healthcare, but they will have this unique experience to share with interviewers, employers and colleagues about how they truly changed lives while in college,” said Nadja Prcic ’11.

Prcic, a community health graduate, is the Be The Match recruiter for College Station. Prcic said having a presence on campus is extremely helpful and equally important.

“These college students have put over 200 individuals in just months on the registry. These 200 people may go on to save someone’s life,” Prcic said.

Among the efforts to register donors, Be The Match TAMU held a drive this semester where they registered nearly 55 people at the Memorial Student Center. The registration process is simple: a donor fills out a consent form with medical history and contact information and gives a cheek swab. The swabs are then sent off for testing and put into the registry.

“Studies have shown that transplants are more successful from younger donors. Being on a huge campus like A&M is a great opportunity to target this particular population of potential donors,” Whittaker said.

The donor’s name stays in the registry until they are 61 years old. Most will never get the call, but Prcic said each donor could be the difference in saving someone’s life.

“Not everyone is lucky enough to be a donor. Only a special few will truly know what it means to be someone’s hero,” Prcic said.

Prcic works closely with Be The Match TAMU. The group helps her staff events with volunteers, fundraise for the cause, and educate and organize on campus drives to grow the registry.

“Each one of them becomes a walking billboard for our cause, and they become so passionate about the program that they share with all of their friends on campus the wonderful things Be The Match does,” Prcic said.

Whittaker, who initially wanted to pursue a career in nursing, has found a love for health education. She plans on taking the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHEC) exam next semester and looking for a job with the aging and elderly population. After graduation, Whittaker plans to continue helping recruit for Be The Match. 

Be The Match is hosting a “Bad to the Bone Zumbathon” this weekend to raise money and register donors. Be The Match TAMU is helping by selling tickets on campus and staffing the event. View the event poster for more information on the Zumbathon.