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Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

METAIRIE,La. -- Seven hundred people signed up for the Perfect Match bone marrow donor registry last month in Metairie, and it became a community event where individuals could become life-savers.

'I've always wanted to participate and help people, and this was just a great cause after Sally Ann and her sister,' said Harold Buchler.

'I think that you know we have a lot of serious diseases that afflicts our community,' said Angela Davis.

Since Sally Ann announced she would become a donor for her sister Robin, the Perfect Match program doubled the number of potential donors that the entire state normally signs up in a year.

'We're close to 1000,' said Natalie Rowe, with the National Marrow Donor Program. 'If everyone mails in their packets, and they respond, we'll be close to 1200 people that have responded since the announcement back in June.'

After the donors swabbed their cheeks for tissue cell samples, those kits are sent to the National Marrow Donor Registry lab in Minnesota where they are specially processed.

'They take those cells, and match those cells against a recipient's cells to see if there's an HLA match with their DNA,' said Rowe.

But it costs $100 to test and register each potential donor, and the National Marrow Donor Program relies on financial contributions to cover the testing expenses.

With the explosion of donors, they urgently need funding help.

'If we can get about 12 corporate sponsors at about $5000, that would tremendously help us in processing the kits, and adding more people on to the registry,' said Rowe.

Financial contributions of any size are welcomed. So many people still want to become donors that another Perfect Match drive is being organized for Thursday on the Northshore in Covington during the Eyewitness Morning News.

Being asked to donate can be a life-changing experience.

'Last year we had an LSU student who was a match, and he said that he thought it was the most wonderful thing that he could give while he was alive,' said Rowe.

For more information call 985-788-9461, or visit their website at www.bethematchfoundation.org/pelicanstate.

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