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

Leslie Vallely

To those who have been lucky enough to find one, a bone marrow match has been compared to winning the lottery. The statistics of finding a match break down like this: every four minutes in the U.S., someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, that's 360 people a day and 15 people each hour, making the chance of finding a near perfect match one in 1000.

In an effort to fight blood cancers and identify potential bone marrow donors in our community The University of Alabama in Huntsville's College of Nursing and the Clearview Cancer Institute (CCI) are teaming up to sponsor two Be The Match® donor drives on Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1, simultaneously from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., in the UAH College of Nursing and the University Center Exhibit Hall.

"The College of Nursing is excited to partner with Be The Match® and CCI for this worthwhile campaign," said Mark E. Reynolds, UAH clinical assistant professor and Association of Nursing Students (ANS) faculty advisor. "As members of the profession of nursing it is always our desire and charge to care for people and help people. Through these collaborative efforts we hope that the national bone marrow registry will have an increase in potential donors and that eventually a life can be saved from a donation."

The Be The Match® drives are in memory of Leslie Vallely, who lost her battle with leukemia last summer. 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.

She is survived by her husband, John Joseph Vallely, and three daughters, Leigh Hayes Mathews, Megan Elizabeth Hayes, and Kathleen Palmer Vallely.

The drives will be manned by nursing students who are members of the Association of Nursing Students (ANS) and by a representative from Be The Match®.

Be The Match banner

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 ANS President, I am thrilled that we are partnering with Be The Match® for this event, as are many other students. It seems like so many people know someone who knows someone who needs a bone marrow transplant, yet there are many who cannot find a match. It is the least we can do to try to help this, after all the test is only a simple cheek swab," said Carly Hasting, President of ANS.

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 March 31 and April 1, please email Mark E. Reynolds at



Joyce Anderson-Maples