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11/23/2009 —

When news reached campus on a Saturday in October that beloved professor Arnold Markley had fallen seriously ill, faculty, staff and students at Penn State Brandywine responded with shock and concern.

By Monday, the campus had mobilized into action.

In an effort to make something positive out of a negative situation, Penn State Brandywine is holding a “Be The Match” drive to build up the national bone marrow registry and support those who, like Markley, need a bone marrow transplant.

The drive will take place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4 in the Tomezsko Classroom Building Lounge.

Markley, professor of English, learned that the acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.), first diagnosed in January 2008, and from which he made a recovery, had returned, as it typically does in 75 percent of the patients who have the disease.

He is currently undergoing an intensive round of chemotherapy to bring him back into remission, and will subsequently receive a bone marrow transplant.

“The outpouring of support from our campus for Arnold Markley has been truly amazing, not only from faculty and friends, but also from students,” said Assistant Director of Academic Affairs Patricia Hillen, both a colleague and dear friend of Markley and one of the organizers of the initiative. “Hours after an e-mail went out to a student list-serve asking for volunteers, we received so many responses from Arnold’s students. Besides joining the registry themselves, they want to help with registration, bake food for other volunteers and advertise in their own local communities. I can only imagine how far-reaching this day will be for so many.”

Emily Kane, a senior majoring in English, is one of Markley’s students who responded immediately. “Knowing the fight Dr. Markley is in, I want to help in any way I can,” she said. “This is a cause that is very close to our campus community and to a dear professor. I couldn't wait to help!”

The drive is open to the community. Individuals must be between the ages of 18 and 60, in good general health (no personal history of cancer, insulin-dependent diabetes or heart disease) and willing to join the registry to potentially save a life.

It’s a simple procedure. A saliva test is all that is required for the initial screening. Registrants will be asked to take four long Q-tips and rub the inside of their cheek. 
There is no cost to participate in the drive. However, donations are welcome since it costs the foundation about $90 in lab fees for each person processed.

According to the Be The Match Foundation, thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases hope to get the marrow or cord blood transplant that can save their lives. Seventy percent of these, or roughly 100,000 patients a year, will not find a matching donor in their family.

“I didn’t realize there were so many people who needed bone marrow transplants,” said Dana Gibson, a senior majoring in English and another student of Markley’s. “Dr. Markley has always been incredibly supportive of his students, and now it is our turn to show our support for him during his illness. We can do this by participating in the bone marrow drive.”

Added Kane, “We often take our good health for granted, and knowing how quickly it can be taken from us or from loved ones can be devastating. Knowing that there are strangers out there who are willing to go through a small procedure so that a patient with cancer might have the hope and strength to carry on must be so comforting for them. I want to do my part to help and hope that others will, too.”

Markley is deeply grateful for the support he has received and is very pleased that the campus has organized this drive in his honor.

“I think it’s wonderful, and I can’t tell you how moved I am that you have begun to organize this,” he wrote in an e-mail.  “It means the world to me and feels like the ultimate show of support from the whole community. I’m really touched.”

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