Local/State

NC Central University hosts bone marrow registry drive Saturday

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Students at N.C. Central University are "Swabbing for Sheldon" Saturday.

Sheldon is a sophomore at the university, and he's on a mission to find more bone marrow donors.

ABC11 first met Sheldon Mba, who is a sophomore at N.C. Central at a "Be The Match" bone marrow drive held earlier this year. He needs a match to help save his own life.

Members of the ABC family inspired ABC11 to host the registry. ABC's Robin Roberts public battle against a blood and bone marrow disease and the son of an ABC11 photographer who lost his battle with leukemia were our motivation.

Now Mba is the face of the "Swab for Sheldon" bone marrow registry held at NCCU's homecoming Saturday.

"We're setting up all these drives not just for me but for people in my position," said Mba.

Mba is young and looks healthy on the outside, but inside he's fighting a rare blood disorder that has his body attacking itself.

"When I make red blood cells, my white blood cells attack those and then I don't make enough of the cells that I need to survive," said Mba.

On good days, he's full of energy. On bad days, he's sluggish with headaches, but he fights each day.

"I wake up," he said. "I find something or think about something or laugh about it and then I hold onto it for the rest of the day and that's how I keep a smile on my face."

Right now, dozens of treatments at UNC Hospitals are what's keeping Mba alive, but a bone marrow transplant is his only cure. During Saturday's drive, Sheldon hopes to register as many minorities as possible.

"It's not related to your blood-type," said Mba. "It's more related to your heritage and your ethnicity and everything because you're more likely to find a match with someone of your own race."

ABC11's efforts help sign up almost 300 people resulting in Big Weather Don Schwenneker fulfilling a wager to shave his head on air.

It's a sacrifice the National Marrow Donor Be the Match Council recognized at its conference this week.

Raising awareness is something Mba wants to do too.

"People have a lot of misconceptions about what happens when you have to donate when it's a bone marrow transplant," said Mba. "When it's really painless."

The drive on N.C. Central's campus starts Saturday at 11 a.m. before the game on the practice field, then at the Library Bowl after the game. From 4 until 8 p.m., it will continue during a homecoming block party on George Street.

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north carolina news, durham county news, nccu, local/state, fred shropshire
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