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Give Blood, Give Life

Blood and marrow registration drives to support Warren resident, RWU alumnus Joe Ramos '73


BRISTOL, R.I. -- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to save a life? Sometimes all it takes is 15 minutes and a cheek swab.

Joe Ramos '73 and his wife, Karen, in Newport, R.I.

On February 5 and 6, the Roger Williams University community will once again have an opportunity to participate in life-saving service when the Rhode Island Blood Center sets up shop in the North Campus Residence Hall. In a new twist to an old tradition – RWU hosted the Rhode Island Blood Center’s first blood drive – an optional bone marrow registration drive will accompany the blood drive.

The bone marrow registration drive at Roger Williams will be held to benefit Joe Ramos '73, a Warren resident and RWU alumnus in need of a bone marrow transplant. Ramos is currently battling Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a disease that occurs when the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough normal blood cells. While he has received a number of blood transfusions throughout his treatment, Ramos – who is currently being treated at Dana-Farber in Boston – requires a bone marrow transplant to be cured. To date, no acceptable matches have been found in his family or through the national marrow registry. Bone marrow transplant patients are most likely to find a match with others who share their ethnicity, which makes the RWU community an especially great resource for patients of Portuguese, Spanish or French descent, like Ramos who is Portuguese.

“Once a Hawk, always a Hawk,” says KC Ferrara, director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. “Our relationships with each other don’t end after four years. Joe is a member of our community twice over; he’s a local resident and he’s also a Roger Williams alum. It’s important to show our commitment to each other and to the community.”

But the impact of bone marrow donation doesn’t stop there, Ferrara says.

“You’re not just helping him,” she says. “You’re potentially helping hundreds of thousands of people who need it, all over the country.”

An increasingly common occurrence, bone marrow registration is a procedure that takes approximately 15 minutes and requires only a cheek swab, Ferrara says. Roger Williams pre-med and pre-vet students will perform the cheek swab procedure under the supervision of faculty member Kerri Warren. Students who elect to be added to the bone marrow donation registry will also be included in the national bone marrow donation database.

The Roger Williams University blood drive and bone marrow registration drive for Joe Ramos will be held on Februray 5 and 6, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the North Campus Residence Hall lobby. For more information, visit or contact KC Ferrara at (401) 254-3765.