How to become a DKMS volunteer? On March 18, Sii Polska planned a nationwide Marrow Donor Day for its employees. In the current situation of epidemiological threat, the company postpones the action to a later time – which at the same time does not mean that the information campaign to encourage employees to become potential bone marrow donors is suspended. It is still important to bring the whole process of genetic material closer and refute the myths associated with it. Tomasz Milczarczyk, IT Support Specialist in Sii, being a volunteer for DKMS Foundation tells us about the first material sampling and how does the volunteer work look like.
How did it happen that you became a volunteer for DKMS Foundation?
Tomasz Milczarczyk, IT Support Specialist: A friend from the university was a volunteer for DKMS and organized Bone Marrow Donor Day at our faculty. I wanted to help him and volunteered to register people. Of course, I also registered myself. To be honest, up to that point I didn’t realize how important it was to register in the database of potential bone marrow donors. Only conversations with people associated with DKMS made me realize how many people can wait for my help. We really have the power to save a human life. As the DKMS slogan says: we have it in our genes!
What comes under the responsibility of a volunteer?
T.M.: First of all, providing reliable information on bone marrow collection. There are many rumors and myths about this procedure among people. It is important that registrants have full access to information and that their decision is thought-through and responsible. When someone decides register oneself, a volunteer must interview him briefly. None of the volunteers is a doctor, but based on the questionnaire sent to us by DKMS, we are able to determine whether a willing person can register in the database of potential bone marrow donors. During the interview you should ask, among other things, about your past surgeries, chronic diseases, as well as medications you are taking.
Is such an interview necessary? How about when a work colleague refuses to provide us with such information?
T.M.: Anyone who wants to register as a potential donor must go through the initial face-to-face survey. This is a requirement of the Ministry of Health and it is not possible to register a donor without it. If a person does not feel comfortable with it, DKMS always gives us, volunteers, a printed list of diseases and contraindications. Everyone can check in advance whether their illness / medications are a contraindication to being a donor; one can also call the anonymous hotline, check the DKMS website or write an email to DKMS to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. There are really many possibilities that avoid a problematic conversation with a colleague.
If there are no contraindications – what are the next steps?
T.M.: If the interview is successful, the registrant completes the personal form. The volunteer is responsible for ensuring that the form is correctly filled out. In the next stage, the registrant himself takes a swab, rubbing a stick on the inside of the cheek, and then puts it in an envelope. Volunteer’s task is to instruct the potential donor on how to properly take the swab, and to ensure that this stage is run correctly (including the appropriate swab collection time).
Is the registration process complicated in your opinion?
T.M.: Absolutely not. Registration is very simple, both for the volunteer and the registrant, and completely painless. Before the Bone Marrow Donor Day volunteers are properly trained in an easy way online, and throughout the duration of registration they have access to all information from DKMS at their disposal (among others, a list of questions to be asked during the interview or a list of diseases that prevent registration) and support of the coordinator of the action. DKMS employees are also available by phone and are happy to help in case of problems.
What is volunteer training like?
T.M.: The training takes place online, so you don’t have to travel anywhere. The DKMS coordinator sends 4 videos. The first one tells us about the contents of the box that we will receive before start. There are leaflets, registration packs, forms for entering personal data and other aiding materials. The second video deals with the most important issues during registration. The third video instructs on how to prepare a package after registration, and the fourth one shows how to conduct the registration step by step. Three of these videos last less than 4 minutes, the last one is a little longer, it lasts about 15 minutes. We devote less than 30 minutes to learning how to perform as a volunteer.
How would you encourage our Power People to become volunteers during the campaign and to register?
T.M.: I believe that events encouraging registration are necessary – without them we would not be able to attract new people and save the lives of those who need our help. The more people registered, the greater the chance to find a donor and recover. It’s a great feeling – being able to help! As I said before, becoming a volunteer does not take much time, and lets you feel that something really important is being done.
As part of the cooperation, the company will make a donation to the DKMS Foundation, which will be used to register the genetic material of Sii employees during this year’s campaign. At the same time, volunteers remind all interested parties outside the company that you can also become a potential donor, and the details are available on the DKMS Foundation’s website: https://www.dkms.pl/pl/zostan-dawca