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Citizen Airman marrow registry drive nets over 400

Lt. Col. Janice Kroone, left, 131st Bomb Wing director of staff, accepts a bone marrow donor registration packet from a Soldier from the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.  Kroone recently led a bone marrow registry drive on base that signed up more than 400 registrants.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Elise Rich)

Lt. Col. Janice Kroone, left, 131st Bomb Wing director of staff, accepts a bone marrow donor registration packet from a Soldier from the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. Kroone recently led a bone marrow registry drive at Whiteman that signed up more than 400 registrants. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Elise Rich)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In 2009, Lt. Col. Janice Kroone of the Missouri Air National Guard received a call from the C.W. Young Department of Defense Bone Marrow Donor Program. 

The C.W. Young Donor Program told Kroone she was a bone marrow match for a man suffering from leukemia.  Kroone chose to move forward with the donation, and was flown to Washington, D.C. to donate bone marrow.

Almost 10 years earlier, Kroone registered as a potential bone marrow donor, so that in the event anyone needed a bone marrow transplant, she could be matched with a recipient.

The recipient, a man in desperate need of stem cells to help counter his leukemia, received his last chance at life from Kroone, director of staff at the 131st Bomb Wing here.

Within a year of her donation, C.W. Young contacted Kroone to ask if she would be interested in getting in touch with the recipient of her bone marrow.  The recipient has been leukemia-free for over five years.

"We started trading Christmas cards and e-mails and that was five years ago," Kroone said. 

Kroone's experience with the DOD program motivated her to hold a registry drive here.  With a team of volunteers from the 131st Bomb Wing, Kroone recently signed up more than 400 additional bone marrow registrants from across Whiteman, including the 131st and 509th Bomb Wings, the 442nd Fighter Wing, and the 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.

Every year, more than 12,000 people are diagnosed with diseases that require an infusion of stem cells. Only 30 percent of these people can be matched to donors within their families. The rest are left to find matches through bone marrow registries.  

Thanks to Citizen Airmen like Kroone, hundreds of additional people have a chance at a match for life-saving bone marrow donations. To learn more about the C.W. Young DOD Bone Marrow Donor Program and how you can help, visit www.salutetolife.org.