by Airman 1st Class Justin Veazie
18th Wing Public Affairs
9/21/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Kadena Air Base Airmen registered more than 900 potential bone marrow donors in a bid to try to save one of their own.
More than 20 squadrons and community organizations, like the Airmen Committed to Excellence, volunteered more than 100 hours at nine registration sites during the five-day campaign from Sept. 4-9.
"We got way more participation than I thought we would," said Capt. Jan Kolenda, 18th Medical Support Squadron chief of laboratory services. "We received somewhere between 900 and 1,000 bone marrow kits, so I would say it was a big success."
The bone marrow drive came about shortly after hearing the struggle of Lt. Col. Ryan Keeney, an F-15 Eagle pilot who was being considered for a squadron commander position at Kadena AB before finding out he had myeloid leukemia, and desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. An initial "match" in the national bone marrow donor registry turned out to be himself, which was invalid. Just recently, however, Keeney found a valid match.
On Sept. 4, volunteers went to different units informing people of the national registry and solicited donors for the Department of Defense C.W. Bill Young Marrow Donor Program. From Sept. 7-9 the volunteers set up registration booths at nine different locations, such as the base commissary or the Exchange.
In the beginning of the campaign it was hard to get donors, officials said, but the campaign organizers and volunteers put in more than 100 hours to spread the word and help the cause.
"Donating bone marrow is a big deal," said Senior Airman Taniah Otis, 18th Medical Support Squadron laboratory technician and president of Airmen Committed to Excellence. "I just wanted to do my part (by volunteering) to contribute as much as possible."