The bone marrow registry drive could help leukemia patients find life-saving donors in the community.
Motivated by a tragedy in his family, a Lawrence businessman is offering city residents a chance to help leukemia patients nationwide.
Miles Schnaer, owner of Crown Chevrolet, Geo, Oldsmobile and Toyota, has scheduled a community bone marrow donor registry drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 22 at the car lot.
Officials from the Heart of America Bone Marrow Donor Registry will be on hand to enlist volunteers and take blood samples in hopes of matching local residents with leukemia patients across the United States.
The dealership is at 3400 S. Iowa.
Schnaer said he became involved with the registry in March, after a 27-year-old nephew was diagnosed with leukemia.
"It kind of sent shockwaves through your system because it hit so close to home," he said.
Schnaer's nephew, Prairie Village resident Brad Schifman, is among thousands of Americans seeking a bone marrow donor.
"Nationally, we have about 2,000 patients every day looking for a donor," said Dianne Lux, manager of donor recruitment for the Heart of America registry.
Lux said the national registry had signed up about 2 million potential donors. But because marrow must meet an extremely precise list of criteria in order to be transplanted, only 4,300 patients have benefited from the registry.
That's one of the reasons Schnaer organized the local drive.
"The more people that register, the better chance we have of finding a match," he said.
Lux said participants would be given a package containing a list of basic qualifications, an explanation of the extraction process and other information. After filling out an application and watching an 11-minute video, participants will be asked to give a small amount of blood for testing.
Organizers request a donation of $22.50 to pay for half of the laboratory fee for testing. Schnaer has solicited funds from area businesses to supply the fee for some people who are unable to pay.
Lux said minorities also may enlist for free. A federal grant pays for their testing, because minority donors are desperately needed.
Schnaer said the drive was not connected to any business promotions.
"We'll be open between 10 and 2, and we'll be out selling cars, but this has absolutely nothing to do with it," he said of his business. "The idea was to have a big enough area to get this done."