Aflac, Be The Match Registry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center - The Official Hospital of the Boston Red Sox, and the Boston Red Sox to Hold Bone Marrow Drive
COLUMBUS, Ga., Sept. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac today announced that it has joined with the Be The Match bone marrow registry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Boston Red Sox to host a free bone marrow drive at CollegeFest 2009, the biggest back-to-school festival in New England. The event will take place in Boston's Hynes Convention Center on September 26th (from Noon-7pm) and September 27th (from Noon-6pm).
The drive at CollegeFest this weekend is part of Aflac's nationwide bone marrow initiative, which was prompted by avid Boston Red Sox fan and Aflac Sales Coordinator Steve Karas who was identified as a perfect bone marrow match for a young New York Yankees fan, Matthew Welling. Matthew was suffering from a debilitating disease called osteopetrosis, and his only hope for survival was a bone marrow transplant. Karas answered the call, and his selfless act started a movement within Aflac. Working with Be The Match, the national bone marrow donor registry, Aflac President and COO Paul Amos has since arranged for multiple bone marrow drives and thousands of Aflac employees and sales agents have joined the donor registry as a result.
"In the past few decades, bone marrow transplants have become an increasingly successful treatment option. Even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match," said Amos. "We're privileged to be joining with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Boston Red Sox to help generate awareness and to increase the size and diversity of the Be The Match Registry."
In addition to serving as a bone marrow drive, the booth at CollegeFest will also feature opportunities for students to interact with Red Sox Hall of Famer Luis Tiant and team mascot, Wally the Green Monster. Students attending will also be able to take photos with one of the Red Sox World Series Trophies and could receive a plush Aflac Duck or free Fenway Park tour tickets.
"As an organization near the heart of the community, we know well our responsibility to our neighbors - both those we know and those we have yet to meet," said Larry Lucchino, president/CEO of the Boston Red Sox. "As a cancer survivor and beneficiary of an experimental treatment involving bone marrow, I know firsthand the importance of advancing this cause. We are proud to join together with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Official Hospital of the Boston Red Sox, Aflac, and the Be The Match Registry this Saturday and Sunday to try to make a difference and help address the need for more donors by appealing to our local spirited college students."
"We have the privilege of seeing firsthand how the generosity of bone marrow donors translates into a life saving therapy for many patients," notes Dr. David Avigan, director of bone marrow transplant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "This drive is an opportunity to provide the ultimate gift for patients suffering from blood cancers and other diseases."
Every year, more than 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases for which the best or only hope of a cure is a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. The National Marrow Donor Program(R) (NMDP), which operates the Be The Match Registry, supports this weekend's drive as an opportunity to educate local college students about the need and effectiveness of bone marrow transplants.
"The first step in helping patients in need of a marrow transplant is building awareness that transplant works, it saves lives every day. And anyone can help by joining the Be The Match Registry, hosting a drive, contributing to our Patient Assistance Fund or helping us reach more people with our message," said Dr. Jeffrey W, Chell, CEO, NMDP.
Registration at CollegeFest 2009 is free of charge and involves completing a health history form and giving a swab of cheek cells. All donor registrations will be conducted by representatives from the Rhode Island Blood center, a local affiliate of the Be The Match Registry.
To learn more about joining the Be The Match Registry, please visit Aflac's corporate philanthropy web page or BeTheMatch.org/join.
For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. As the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan, Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. In 2009, Aflac was recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the third consecutive year and was also named by the Reputation Institute as the Most Reputable Company in the Global Insurance Industry for the second consecutive year. In 2009 Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the eleventh consecutive year. Fortune magazine also ranked Aflac No. 1 on its global list of America's Most Admired Companies in the Life and Health Insurance category. Aflac appears on Hispanic Enterprise magazine's list of the 50 Best Companies for Supplier Diversity and on Black Enterprise magazine's list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. Aflac was also named by Forbes magazine as America's Best-Managed Company in the Insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com.
About Be The Match:
Be The Match is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), a leader in the field of marrow and cord blood transplantation, created Be The Match to provide opportunities for the public to become involved in saving the lives of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases. Volunteers can join the Be The Match Registry - the world's largest and most diverse listing of potential adult marrow donors and donated cord blood units - as well as contribute financially to Be The Match Foundation or give their time. Be The Match Foundation supports the NMDP by raising funds to grow the Be The Match Registry, help patients with transplant costs and advance medical research. Since operations began in 1987, the NMDP has provided more than 35,000 transplants to help give patients a second chance at life. For more information, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.
About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.
About The Boston Red Sox:
A Boston and New England institution since the organization's inception in 1901, the Boston Red Sox and its players are currently involved in numerous charitable organizations throughout New England. The goal of this participation and activity is to harness the passion of Red Sox fans and transform this energy into a vehicle for positive change in the community. Each year the Red Sox donate to over 4,500 organizations throughout New England.
Jon A. Sullivan