The Yale men’s basketball team came up with a big assist this past weekend.
The Elis have come to the aid of Annette Windom, a New Haven resident who needs a bone marrow transplant to overcome leukemia. The bone marrow screening will be held Feb. 8 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Trinity Church on the New Haven Green, on the corner of Chapel and Temple Streets.
Flyers for the event were distributed at both Friday and Saturday nights’ men’s basketball games. Just one day before besting the University of Pennsylvania, the basketball team got together for a photo shoot with Windom’s 14-year-old son Ben, a former camper at Yale head coach James Jones’ summer basketball camp.
Windom’s friend Deborah Kraemer approached Jones about helping find a matching donor for Windom, as well as a 14-year-old local girl who also needs a transplant. Kraemer first got acquainted with Jones when her two boys attended Jones’s basketball camp in 1999.
“When [Windom] needed a bone morrow transplant, I thought of how I could reach the Yale students,” Kraemer said. “I e-mailed coach Jones and he thought it was a great idea and he wanted to help.”
Jones got captain Matt Minoff ’04 involved and Minoff then continued the contact with Kraemer.
“I’m quite thrilled at the town-gown relationship and the helping [attitude],” Kraemer said. “Just from the e-mails I can see that [Minoff]’s a wonderful guy. He’s given me some contacts. He’s been generous that way in helping me out.”
Kraemer’s appeal moved Minoff and the Bulldogs, whose primary function is obviously not service-related.
“Just like any other student organization on campus, we want to help make a difference,” Minoff said. “I think as a group we have some notoriety on campus and hopefully people will respond.”
According to Kraemer, African-Americans — a demographic to which both the local girl and Windom belong– are underrepresented in the National Bone Marrow Donor Program Registry, making it difficult to find a match. Kraemer hopes to have as many as 1,000 people come to the screening this coming Sunday.
“I know a thousand is aiming really high, but in the long run this is to increase the donor registry at a national level,” she said. “There’s kind of a community grassroots thing going on here. [As of Jan. 25] we have, right now, [about] 150 people that have signed up and we’ve probably given out over 2,000 flyers”
According to the flyer, the test requires only a few drops of blood taken from the finger of each subject. With the subject’s consent, these are entered in the registry. Kraemer said that should a person be a match and decide to donate, the donor is anesthetized and the marrow is taken from the hip. According to Kraemer, it grows back quickly.
Jones is glad to be able to help this cause, but realizes there is a lot more he would like to see done. Jones, himself an African-American, said he cannot donate because he is too old.
“Certainly there are a lot of things that I think about doing,” he said. “Sometimes time falls short, especially when you’re trying to win basketball games. If we are approached, or there is a similar situation, we will try to help as much as we can. Through [athletic director] Tom Beckett’s effort there has been a lot of stuff done through community outreach and this certainly can be seen as community outreach.”
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