Students organize bone marrow donors, save lives

By Dustin VandeHoef, College of Education intern

Deb Pastore (80x80)PULLMAN, Wash. – Three people are alive today thanks to the contributions of Washington State University students.

This year, the student group Be the Match on Campus helped match three bone marrow student donors with patients fighting cancer. Be the Match is a nonprofit organization with one of the largest marrow registries in the world.

Students who are interested in joining Be the Match on Campus or contributing to the national registry can contact Debra Pastore at

The typical chance of being a match is 1-in-450, making WSU’s 3-in-300 rate pretty remarkable, said Pastore, the faculty advisor for Be the Match on Campus.

The group aims to host two registry drives every semester. The process is simple and involves nothing more than 15 minutes and a cheek swab, she said.

“Students who take part in the drive may literally save a life,” she said.

Pastore was inspired to start a WSU chapter of Be the Match after losing her sister to cancer.

“She told me to get as many people signed up in the registry as possible,” Pastore said. “So this is my contribution. This is how I want to give back.”

Her efforts led WSU to be one of the first campuses to contribute to the national registry.

“They were just beginning to reach out to colleges when I set this up. There are lots of young, healthy people on campuses,” Pastore said.

For students who donate, there is always the possibility they will meet the person they helped save. After one year, the parties can meet if they both agree to it. Donors are always told the age and sex of the recipient, Pastore said.