Blood and bone marrow drive honors UA freshman

Eryn Phillips

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Chi Omega sorority held a bone marrow registry and blood drive Wednesday in honor of Blaise, a UA freshman, and Madeline Finnegan, siblings who have both been diagnosed with Fanconi anemia.

The rare blood disease causes bone marrow failure, resulting in unhealthy blood. It also affects patients’ stem cells, causing red and white blood cells not to fully develop or not develop at all. The disease causes extreme pain, and patients have to go through bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy and biopsies.

Phillip Dean, a sophomore majoring in finance, said he was very pleased with the outcome of the event.

“We made T-shirts to advertise and get the word out for Blaise and his sister,” Dean said.

Doug Randall, a junior majoring in finance, said the family was very appreciative.

“It is a great cause because all of Blaise’s fraternity and pledge brothers showed up to donate for him,” Randall said. “It means a lot to his family.”

By noon, LifeSouth, the company collecting samples to enter potential donors into a bank, had already run out of collection kits.

Blaise Finnegan, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering and a brother of Pi Kappa Phi, said he does not know right now when he will need a bone marrow transplant but is very grateful for the turnout.

“I went to class and came back, and they had already handed out all the forms,” Finnegan said.

Madeline Finnegan is a freshman at Huntsville High School. She said when she was in middle school and her school held a similar drive in her honor, 150 samples were entered into the donor database.

“It makes me feel so glad that so many other students on this campus care about other people who are sick,” Madeline Finnegan said.

Madeline said when she graduates, she wants to attend Oxford University or Parsons University in New York to study anthropology.

Blaire Middleton, district coordinator for LifeSouth, said the purpose of the drive was to help register donors for bone marrow donations.

“We registered about 115 potential donors today, which is amazing,” Middleton said. “At today’s drive, the Central Alabama Chapter met its quota for the entire chapter.”

“I know today’s drive was to help Blaise and Madeline, but there are so many people across the country that need bone marrow too and this gives us hope,” she said.

Blaise and Madeline’s mom, Nancy, said she was impressed with the hospitality the students showed her, and she was also thrilled about the turnout.

“I am very impressed about how the boys have designed T-shirts and Facebook pages,” Finnegan said. “The support for Blaise and Madeline has been phenomenal.”