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August 21, 2012 > Girl Scout Gold Award - Bone Marrow Registry

Girl Scout Gold Award - Bone Marrow Registry

Submitted By Shivam Parikh

As an active leader in the fight against cancer, high school senior Mili Parikh has held key committee positions in American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, a 24-hour walkathon designed to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer.

The Mission San Jose High School student channeled that passion for fighting cancer when working toward Girl Scouting's highest ranking achievement, the Gold Award. To earn this honor, a Girl Scout must plan and implement an individual "Take Action" project that reaches beyond the Girl Scout organization and provides a sustainable, lasting benefit to the community at large.

Parikh spoke with various leaders of the community and of the American Cancer Society in order to identify a pressing issue that affects blood cancer patients worldwide - bone marrow transplants. Every year, thousands of children and adults need bone marrow transplants, a procedure which may be their only chance for survival. Although some of these blood cancer patients have a genetically matched family member who can donate, about 70 percent do not. These patients' lives depend on finding an unrelated individual with a compatible tissue type, often within their own ethnic group, who is willing to donate bone marrow for them.

Addressing this need, Parikh planned and organized six Bone Marrow Registry Drives in Fremont with the help and support of DKMS Americas. As three of those drives took place at cultural centers, Parikh believed she was able to focus on an issue within the Bone Marrow Registry. "The Indian population is one of many ethnic groups that are heavily underrepresented in the National Registry. When a patient of South Asian descent is in need of a bone marrow transplant, it's that much more difficult for him or her to find a match," she explained.

In addition, Parikh brought this issue to light in front of the entire Fremont community by hosting two successful drives at the annual Fremont Festival of the Arts. "I'm glad we were able to educate and inform an audience of thousands about the pressing need to join the National Registry. Hopefully more people will take up this cause and help save the lives of blood cancer patients worldwide," said Parikh.

Through the six drives, Parikh and her team of volunteers were able to register 133 adults committed to donating bone marrow and raise awareness of many more. Parikh noted, "I'm excited about the success of this project! I hope to continue hosting Registry Drives in the future, and I hope we as a community are able to make a difference in this way."

For more information on how to register as a Bone Marrow Donor, visit www.getswabbed.org. For further information about Girl Scouts and the Gold Award, visit www.girlscoutsnorcal.org.

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