Tomorrow, Friday, October 25th, Cashwise Foods in Owatonna and DKMS will be holding a bone marrow donor drive from 9a-7p. By deciding to be a potential donor, you are opening the door to potentially save the life of a total stranger on the opposite side of the world, or maybe down the road.

I recently got to talk to Brian Elwer, store manager of Cashwise Foods in Owatonna, and the first thing I asked him was why a bone marrow donor drive? His response was one, that anyone who knows Brian, that is typical. He just wanted to help a team member at the store. Recently a member of Brian's team at Cashwise was diagnosed with Leukemia. After some careful thought on the matter and some research, it became apparent that one of the most effective ways to not only help his teammate but others suffering from various forms of blood cancer was to increase awareness and find those willing to become donors.

If you are like me, my immediate reaction to hearing 'bone marrow donor' was to shutter a little thinking how painful the process is to donate. Little did I know that, 75% of the cases where a donation is needed they don't actually take physical marrow. According to DKMS.org, that process is called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Collection (PBSC). "It's used in more than 75 percent of cases, cells are drawn via the bloodstream."

If you'd like to donate, there are some restrictions, when it comes to possible donors.

To be eligible to register, a person must be:
• between the ages of 18 and 55
• in general good health
• willing to donate to ANY patient
• not already registered
• living permanently in the U.S.
• at least 4'10" and 105 lbs

The donor drive is absolutely free, there aren't any appointments needed either. Just show up between 9a and 7p. There is a brief form to fill out, and then a cheek swab. That's it.

So what happens if you are a match? DKMS will handle getting you to one of their network hospitals for the procedure, and if you don't get paid time off at work, even compensate you for taking the time off to donate.