Washington resident Joyce Jones has been named the first DKMS Americas donor recruiter in the Midwest.
Currently, the organization, with its home office in Germany, has one other office in the United States, in New York — though services are offered to people worldwide.
DKMS Americas is an organization that helps recruit bone marrow donors for patients with leukemia.
Often, a bone marrow transplant is the patient’s only hope for survival, but because there are so few on the registry, finding a match is difficult if not impossible.
Jones, who began her new post Sept. 6, will cover Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. She began training in July.
Her responsibilities will include contacting schools, organizations and corporations to see if they would be interested in setting up a donor drive. She will help coordinate the drives, which typically take about four weeks of planning.
Jones also will work with local oncologists and hematologists so they have someone to send patients to if they need a bone marrow transplant.
If there are patients in need of a bone marrow transplant, Jones will help set up drives in their honor and help them through the bone marrow donor registry process.
It’s important to note though, Jones said, that just because you sign up to help a particular person doesn’t mean you won’t be called to help someone else.
Once a person joins the bone marrow donor registry list, they are on it until age 61 and can be called to help anyone with blood cancer in the world, she explained.
“Everything we do is for the mere goal of trying to help people find their match,” she said. “The more donors we have registered, the more lives we can save.”
Jones said her goal is to help people understand the need for bone marrow donors, as well as to help get more people on the registry.
Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer and every 10 minutes, someone dies from the disease, she said.
Additionally, only 30 percent of patients find a match in their family. The other 70 percent rely on a stranger for a donation.
That’s why Jones says it’s important to be proactive and not wait until you know someone who needs a transplant.
Six out of 10 patients do not receive their lifesaving donation, she noted.
Jones said she feels blessed with the new opportunity.
“The best part is to say that I do a job where I help save lives,” she said. “This is a job with an extreme purpose.”
Jones’ first drive as a donor recruiter was at Busch Stadium over Labor Day weekend, where 1,100 donors were registered during three Cardinals games. Jones has volunteered for donor drives in the past, including at the Washington Town and Country Fair.
Jones lives in Washington with her husband Dennis. The couple has four grown children.
She can be contacted by email at email@example.com.