BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRCTV - To find donors for the 30-plus children requiring bone marrow transplants at the Children's Hospital of Alabama each year, and thousands of other adults and children worldwide, the 2007 "Call to Caring" Blood and Marrow Donor Drive will be held Thursday, April 26, and Friday, April 27, in the hospital's Main Lobby, 1600 7th Avenue South. The marrow drive begins at 7 a.m. and the blood drive at 9 a.m. Both conclude at 3 p.m.

The blood and marrow donor drive is held in partnership with the American Red Cross, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), The UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Children's Hospital and the UAB Bone Marrow Transplant Program. More than 300 patients are currently being treated for pediatric cancer and other blood disorders at Children's Hospital, and another 150 are diagnosed each year.

For some, bone marrow transplant is a crucial component of the curative therapy they undergo for leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other such diseases. Yet, finding a suitable donor can be difficult, especially in minority populations including African Americans, Native Americans, Alaskans, Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Asians. In fact, only about 50-percent of them are able to find matches through the NMDP and its affiliates. Matching donors with patients in need is truly a life-saving endeavor.

Registering with the NMDP is quick and painless, free of charge, and requires only the completion of paperwork and a simple mouth swab. Registration adds the potential donor's name to an international list used to match donors to adults and children all over the world who are in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Details about the transplantation process will be available during the donor drive. Organizers are hopeful that several hundred area residents will participate.

Children's Hospital is home to the Lowder Bone Marrow Transplant Center, Alabama's only bone marrow transplant and cellular therapy program. The unit opened in 2000. Children's is the only free-standing pediatric hospital in Alabama dedicated solely to the treatment of children, and one of only about 45 freestanding acute care pediatric hospitals in the U.S. Children's is home to one of the largest pediatric outpatient centers in the nation and the state's only pediatric Level I trauma center. Children's also houses the largest pediatric burn center in the southeast U.S.