University of Texas San Antonio students rally together to save lives

GenCure hosts Be the Cure on Campus registry drive to give hope to blood cancer patients like Bella
February 25, 2019
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University of Texas at San Antonio students can save a life by signing up for the marrow donor registry at the Be the Cure on Campus drive now through Sept. 30, 2019. GenCure, a subsidiary of San Antonio nonprofit BioBridge Global, will have information tables on campus Feb. 25-28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Paseo, Business Building, McKinney Humanities Building and Sombrilla Plaza on the UTSA Main Campus.

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 when she was 7 months old.

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

Bella currently is receiving treatment in San Antonio. While she is not always able to leave the hospital, she stays entertained with toys, art and music. Bella’s father and mother are staying with her during her 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.

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, more than 600 UTSA students joined the Be the Match Registry. This year’s drive aims to add 800 potential bone marrow or stem cell donors.

This year, the Hispanic Student Association 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 UTSA 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. They continue to spread the word 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 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.