UAH, CCI co-sponsor second Be The Match® drives in memory of Leslie Vallely


Last year The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) hosted two of the largest Be The Match® donor drives in the state, and added 211 donors to the national registry. Next month, in an effort to fight blood cancers and identify potential bone marrow donors in our community the UAH College of Nursing and the Clearview Cancer Institute (CCI) will team up again to co-sponsor two Be The Match donor drives on Thursday, April 7, and Friday, April 8, from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m., in the UAH Charger Union Breezeway.

"The College of Nursing is excited to partner with Be The Match® and CCI again for this campaign, because it's such a great cause and I'm hoping we beat our response last year," said Tracy Durm ('98 BSN, '02 MSN) UAH Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing. "This is a great opportunity for people to show some compassion for others in such a simple easy way. The fact that we have the technology to match others with just a cheek swab and potentially a blood donation is amazing!"

The Be The Match drives are in memory of Leslie Vallely, who lost her battle with leukemia in 2014. At the time of her death, Vallely was director of communications at CCI. While at CCI, Leslie founded Circle of Friends, a cancer support group for women in Marshall County, and was instrumental in establishing educational programs for all cancer patients in the Tennessee Valley. Her successful career in the field of communications spanned more than three decades. Prior to her employment at CCI, Vallely served as the public service director for WHNT-TV Channel 19, and as public relations director for Hospice Family Care in Huntsville.


Leslie Vallely

courtesy photo: CCI

The drives will be manned by UAH nursing students who are members of the Association of Nursing Students (ANS) and by a representative from Be The Match. At donor registry drives, there is a focus on recruiting new registry members ages 18 to 44. This is based on medical research that shows younger donors are best for patients and provide the greatest chance for transplant success.

"As president, I am so excited to be working with the Be the Match bone marrow drive. It's such a great opportunity to be able to help with a cause that can both educate people about the bone marrow registry and donation process while making a huge positive impact on other people's lives. Most people don't know that all it takes is a simple cheek swab to see if they are a match or not," said Reem Musa, UAH ANS President.

According to the Be The Match website, for many patients, a bone marrow transplant is the best chance for survival. While 30 percent of patients can find a matching donor in their families, 70 percent - approximately 14,000 each year - must rely on a benevolent stranger to step up and donate. Donors and patients are matched by their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type, which is different from matching blood types. A simple cheek swab can help determine whether individuals are a close bone marrow match for a patient.

The best marrow transplant outcomes happen when a patient's HLA and the HLA of a registry member or cord blood unit closely match. Be The Match® connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. Once approved to donate, the patient's doctor will request one of two donation methods: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or bone marrow. The patient's doctor chooses the donation method that's best for the patient. If you match a patient, the patient's insurance covers all costs. The Be The Match® Registry will pay travel costs if necessary.

For specific information about the UAH, CCI Be The Match® donor drives on April 7 and 8, please email Tracy Durm at:


Tracy Durm


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