Texas A&M-Kingsville students rally together to save lives

Memorial Student Union Building, Jernigan Library, Javelina Dining Hall - 02/06/19 - 02/20/19

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Contact: Leticia Mondragon
Community Engagement Representative
C: 361-480-2820


            KINGSVILLE, Texas – Texas A&M University-Kingsville students can save lives by signing up for the marrow donor registry at the Be the Cure on Campus drive until Sept. 30, 2019. GenCure, a subsidiary of San Antonio nonprofit BioBridge Global, will have information tables on campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Feb. 18-20, at the Memorial Student Union Building, Jernigan Library and Javelina Dining Hall.


            Every person who joins the marrow donor registry gives hope to blood cancer patients like Bella. At 2 years old, Bella is fighting leukemia for the third time. She was first diagnosed at 7 months old.


            “Being in the hospital and being treated is all Bella has known her entire life,” said Ray Sanchez, Bella’s father. “It means more time away from home and from her brothers.”


            Bella currently is undergoing treatment in San Antonio. While she is not always able to leave the ward, she stays entertained with toys, art and music. Bella’s father and mother are staying with her while she is receiving treatment, but her brothers remain in the family’s hometown of Laredo.


            Be the Cure on Campus is an effort to register individuals ages 18-44 to the national marrow donor registry and find lifesaving bone marrow or stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. For patients like Bella, a marrow or stem cell transplant is the best hope for a cure.


            Because a patient is more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity, students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds are especially encouraged to join the registry. The more people who join the registry, the higher a chance for Bella and other patients to find a match.


            Last year, 182 Texas A&M-Kingsville students joined the Be the Match Registry. This year’s drive aims to add 500 potential marrow or stem cell donors to the registry.


            “Since February 2016, the Student Health and Wellness department has coordinated three successful marrow registry drives along with the GenCure representatives and TAMUK student volunteers,” said Jo Elda Castillo-Alaniz, TAMUK’s director of health and wellness. “Each year, we are pleased to connect our TAMUK students with a worthwhile cause that makes a difference and saves lives.”


            This year, the Peer Educator Program (PEP) Talk is working with GenCure representatives to host information tables.


            To join the Registry, donors must be:

  • between the ages of 18 and 44
  • in general good health
  • willing and available to donate to any patient in need, until age 61
  • able to keep their contact information current

            Students can start the signup process by texting TAMUK to 61474 to receive a link to the online registration form. Once the form is complete, a cheek swab kit will be mailed to the student. Follow the directions on the kit and return the cheek swabs in the mail to complete the registration.


            As Bella continues to fight cancer for the third time, her family continues to stay hopeful that she will finish the fight. They continue to spread the word on social media about Bella’s story and the need for more people to join the marrow registry. Bella has also inspired many patients throughout the world.


            “We have messages from all over the world, from Thailand, Australia, New York and Canada,” said Ray. “They just recently got diagnosed or know someone going through this. They see how strong Bella is, and how she’s overcoming it and how she continues to fight, even though she has relapsed three times.”


            Follow @BellaStrong123 on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on Bella’s journey. Learn more about joining the registry at GenCure.org.


            About GenCure: GenCure, a subsidiary of BioBridge Global, is a nonprofit organization focused on enabling the development of cell- and tissue-based therapies by providing access to source materials, cGMP biomanufacturing experience and clinical research support. GenCure focuses on regenerative medicine, oncology, orthopedics and dental support through the Texas Cord Blood Bank, a national marrow donor program, apheresis center and a deceased donor tissue bank. Learn more at GenCure.org.