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Basketball Player Todd Billet Is Leading It
Minority Bone Marrow Donor Registration Drive To Take Place Feb. 15 At U.Va. Cage

February 13, 2002-- Charlottesville area residents, especially minorities, are invited to register as a potential bone marrow donor Saturday, Feb. 15, at The Cage, opposite the main entrance to University Hall at the University of Virginia.

The national registration drive, aimed at helping save lives, is being spearheaded locally by U.Va. men’s basketball player Todd Billet. The sign-up will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Although he faces one of the biggest games of the season that night at home against Duke University, Billet said he hopes to be at The Cage to help out for much of the drive. “There should be a lot of students and others out there to get tickets,” he said. “It’s a busy time, but I’m going to be passing out fliers.”

Signing up for the National Bone Marrow Registry is easy, Billet said. Two to three drops of blood are collected by a finger prick for testing. Regular blood donations also will be accepted the day of the drive, which is co-sponsored by Virginia Blood Services, the U.Va. Health System and the men’s basketball team.

A serious deficit of bone marrow donors exists among Latinos, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans, according to Virginia Blood Services. Donations of healthy bone marrow, when matched to a patient, are used to treat people suffering from many life-threatening situations, including cancers of the blood and leukemia. If a donor is identified as a proper match
for a patient, the marrow collection process is a hospital procedure in which some healthy marrow is removed from the back of the pelvic bone using a syringe. Recovery for the donor is quick, and the marrow naturally replenishes itself.

Billet, who was asked to be involved in the national registration drive by a friend in his home state of New Jersey, has been talking about the seriousness of the cause even during some basketball interviews. He plans to register himself, too.

After flying in at midnight following a grueling game in North Carolina on Wednesday, Billet was passing out fliers and visiting University offices Thursday morning. Then he had to hurry on to an economics class, an African-American studies class and a Spanish test before basketball practice.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Friday, 14-Feb-2003 11:41:12 EST
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