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Giving the Gift of Life

By Nick Estrada —

At the 2017 International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity adopted Gift of Life Marrow Registry as an official community service partner. This formal partnership comes after several years of donor registry drives at international events such as Dover Days and International Convention.

As of today, the registry from ZBT boasts more than 2,500 donors and has provided seven transplants.

The creation of this formal partnership would not have been possible without the continued efforts of one of ZBT’s own brothers. In the fall of 2015, the Fraternity was approached by Russell A.T. Lowe, Epsilon Nu (State University of New York at Oneonta) 2016, to see if Gift of Life could be represented at each of the Fraternity’s regional Dover Day programs. Through his hard work to ensure Gift of Life was represented at each of these events and to hold them in the 2017 cycle of the programs as well provided a great foundation for the partnership between ZBT and Gift of Life. The partnership was formally adopted at the spring meeting of the Supreme Council.

“This new partnership will encourage ZBT brothers to do something truly meaningful — save lives,” said Executive Director Laurence A. Bolotin, M.Ed., CAE, Alpha Zeta (University of Florida) 2001. “Our Fraternity’s Credo promotes a life of social responsibility, the commitment of each individual to be a conscientious member of his community. Supporting Gift of Life — through organizing a campus drive, raising awareness of blood cancers or even simply by getting swabbed and joining the registry — is something that every individual brother has the power to do.”

Gift of Life is an international public bone marrow and blood stem cell registry that facilitates transplants for blood cancer patients. Founded in 1991 by Jay Feinberg, a marrow transplant recipient and leukemia survivor, the organization is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation, and is an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association. The organization has more than 260,000 donors in the registry and over 3,100 lifesaving transplants accomplished to-date. Donors who join the Gift of Life registry become part of the international registry database serving over 70 countries.

As a formal partner with Gift of Life, chapters and colonies are encouraged to hold donor recruitment drives on their own campuses and surrounding communities. Gift of Life is committed to growing the donor registry so no one is unable to find a match. With this in mind, they provide everything a chapter or colony will need in order to run a donor recruitment drive. Gift of Life provides chapters with:

  • Education and training in how to organize and run donor drives
  • Printed handbook customized for ZBT
  • Supply box with buccal swab kits, educational materials and handouts
  • Promotional and marketing items to help advertise drives

Young donors are preferred by transplant centers for their patients because they are healthier and naturally produce greater numbers of the needed stem cells. The potential for ZBT to recruit in this donor demographic is huge, and donors do not have to be ZBT brothers to join the registry at a fraternity-sponsored event.

“Zeta Beta Tau has taught me what is truly important in life, and that is helping others and being a responsible citizen,” said Brother Lowe, who was hired at Gift of Life as a Community Engagement Coordinator after volunteering for the organization as an undergraduate. “With Gift of Life and ZBT joining forces, brothers all over the country will have the incredible opportunity to help patients around the world in their fight against blood cancer. It is up to them to live by the Fraternity Credo, and there is no greater way to do this than to help save lives.”

Is your chapter, colony or alumni association interested in holding a donor recruitment drive? Contact Brother Lowe at rlowe@giftoflife.org.

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