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Staursky testifies before Congress in support bone marrow donation

O’Neal Cancer Service Line Strategic Initiatives Manager Dorothea Staursky recently testified in front of Congress to support federal funding for the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.

The C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program began 35 years ago as a partnership between the National Marrow Donor Program and Congress and has facilitated more than 120,000 transplants between matched, unrelated donors and patients with a blood cancer or disorder. Today, the program aims to improve access to cell therapies for thousands of underserved patients.

Staursky, a National Marrow Donor Program and Be The Match volunteer advocacy ambassador and two-time volunteer stem cell donor, joined the Be The Match donor registry in August 2017 after seeing a post on social media.

The post featured a Greek American child who needed a bone marrow transplant to save his life and encouraged individuals with Greek heritage, like Staursky, to sign up for the registry.

“A patient’s likelihood of finding an unrelated donor match on the registry ranges from 29% to 79%, depending on ethnic background,” Staursky said. “I first learned this on social media and decided that I wanted to sign up for the registry.”

Staursky’s life was forever changed a year later when she received a call informing her that she was the best possible match for a patient with a rare blood disease.

“I donated peripheral blood stem cells to my recipient in November 2018 and then again to the same recipient in June 2019,” Staursky said. “It was an honor to match with my recipient and offer him hope for a healthier life.”

Four years after her stem cell donations, Staursky is still involved with the National Marrow Donor Program as a volunteer advocacy ambassador. She has hosted donor registration drives in Alabama, Mississippi and New York and recently completed her doctoral degree with a dissertation on bone marrow and stem cell donations.

“My donations and my involvement with the National Marrow Donor Program have given my life and my work at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center new meaning,” Staursky said. “I feel a personal responsibility to continue my work as an advocate until every patient has a suitable match available.”

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