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Birmingham stem cell donor fighting for donor work leave

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 9:30 PM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It can be difficult for those needing transplants to find donors, but if there happens to be a match, there are other hurdles like getting time off work. That’s why a local woman will ask Congress next week to pass a new law.

Dorothea Staursky is advocating for job protection for bone marrow donors so people can take some time off to help save a life without risking their job.

“Bone marrow and stem cells -- they save lives, and in order to do that, we must protect our donors,” she said.

Dorothea Staursky is a volunteer advocacy ambassador with Be The Match and one of many advocates with the organization fighting for donor work leave.

“When you match with an individual suffering from a blood disease or blood cancer that needs a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, you never want to have a barrier,” said Staursky.

She has donated stem cells twice. It all began several years ago when she saw a social media post about a young boy of Greek ethnicity who needed a bone marrow or stem cell transplant to save his life. The post sparked an interest to help.

Staursky decided to join the Nation’s Registry, operated by National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match. About a year later, she got the call.

“I had matched with an individual and I was the best match!”

Luckily, her employer at the time was supportive, but she knows it’s not always easy for donors. Staursky will ask Congress next week to fight for new legislation to make it easy.

“So it would be 40 hours, an inconsecutive 40 hours, and this would consist of potential donors going in for meetings with their donor coordinator, maybe blood draws, physicals, then the donation day and of course any kind of recovery,” she said.

In a press release from Be The Match, Chief Policy Officer Brian Lindberg says donor leave makes sense: “There is no fiscal impact or funding requirement. We are simply asking employers to give a person time off, just 40 hours, so they can save a life.”

The release went on to say the legislation would have minimal to no cost to employers. It would not require employees to take their established paid time off or sick leave, and it would not require employers to pay for leave to donate. It would merely ensure the donor’s job would be protected while they are involved in the donation process.

To learn more about National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and Be The Match, you can visit their website.

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