Cristina Klatovsky of Inland Northwest Blood Center couldn't be happier with the recent news that her organization was granted $40,000 through Walmart's Washington State Giving Program.
Last fall she wrote the program for the grant funding to benefit bone marrow registrations.
"It costs money to join the bone marrow registry...sometimes that cost is prohibitive for those wanting to join," said Klatovsky.
She said the grant will cover the $52 registry costs per person associated with being added, the registry maintenance and lab work to determine potential bone marrow matches.
"The only way to beat the odds is to find a compatible donor and to do that there must be more people on the registry," shared Klatovsky.
She said the funding will help her organization further its efforts to have individuals join the registry through its registry drives.
For instance, this weekend, there will be a drive in Mabton to support Gloria Trujillo, a 34-year-old mother of four in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Klatovsky believes more Mabton residents will be able to join the registry at the drive, thanks to the grant.
Klatovsky said it is especially important to her that Lower Valley residents join the registry because of the diverse ethnic population. "The Lower Valley is unique in that way...there is a way to give others a fighting chance (at life)," she shared.
Because Lower Valley residents have been supportive of the Inland Northwest Blood Center and continue to join the registry, Klatovsky says she expects the grant funds to be used up quickly.
She said she struggles with the idea of fundraising to support her efforts because she feels she may be competing with her patients.
Many of those in need of bone marrow hold fundraisers of their own to support medical expenses and research efforts.
Klatovsky said she feels the local dollars are stretched and she doesn't want to compete with the patients and their families for those dollars.
"So, I seek out grants to support the registry drives," she said.
Joining the registry is painless. It requires a quick swab of the mouth and the individual fills out a registration form. If the individual appears to be compatible, they will receive a call.
There are approximately five patients in the Lower Valley that Klatovsky knows of in need of a bone marrow donor.
She said individuals found to possibly be compatible are evaluated for health concerns before they can donate, but if they are selected, the procedure is virtually painless.
The donor, once selected, is provided a shot five days in advance to increase bone marrow production. The marrow, said Klatovsky, is increased in the blood stream and drawn from one arm, a machine separates the marrow from the blood and the blood returns to the donor through the other arm.
"One young lady at a recent drive joined the registry. She said she was joining to support her grandmother who is in need of a marrow transplant," said Klatovsky, adding individuals from all walks of life can be affected by the need of a donor for a loved one.