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March 31, 2016


envelopeHelp students to save a life

To the University community:

Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. Most often, they will need a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant to survive: 1 in 200 Americans will receive such a transplant in their lifetime. The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation is a leading international bone marrow and blood stem cell registry helping children and adults find the matches they need. To date, Gift of Life has facilitated over 2,900 transplants!

On Pitt’s campus, Jessie Cohen, a Gift of Life campus ambassador and founder of the University’s Gift of Life student organization, has added over 800 potential donors to the registry this school year alone. Campus ambassadors strive to increase the availability of potential donors, especially those in the age category most requested by transplant physicians, 18-25.

The registration process requires only a quick cheek swab and is free to the potential donor. However, it costs $60 to process each test kit and add it to the registry.

Millennials are doing their part by signing up as potential donors. Pitt faculty and staff can help by supporting and contributing to Pitt’s Gift of Life first annual Trivia Night fundraiser in conjunction with Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh and Alpha Epsilon Pi.

On April 13, 6-9 p.m. in the William Pitt Union’s Kurtzman Room, teams of 4-6 members will compete for prizes, including free Chipotle catering for up to 20 people. There will be a raffle, appetizers and an opportunity to learn more about stem cell and bone marrow donation. Team registration is $25.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to stop by, form a team or sponsor a test kit with a $60 donation as we continue Gift of Life’s mission on Pitt’s campus.

The goal of the event is to raise enough funds to put at least 10 test kits from Pitt students on the registry. Help give the opportunity for someone in the Pitt family to become a lifesaving hero.

For more information or to register a team for Trivia Night, visit our Facebook page, Gift of Life: PITT or contact Jessie Cohen at

Jen Drumheiser
Event Coordinator
Gift of Life
Bone Marrow Foundation
(Editor’s note: The author, a member of Pitt’s Class of 1999, is a bone marrow donor.)

Finding angels in Pitt’s dental School

To the editor:

Praise to my dentists, I’ve found some angels.

Over the years, I have had many bad dental appointments — rushed visits, incompetent technicians and doctors, bad advice — resulting in TMJ, lockjaw, trouble chewing. I had a serious overbite that many professional dental surgeons just did not want to deal with. It all cost me a lot of money and wasted time. Finally, someone suggested I visit the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

At first I was skeptical. Then I met with Dr. Robert L. Engelmeier. He assured me that I was in good hands and assigned a fine young student, Dr. Majid Tofigh, to me. During my first visit it was explained in lay terms that to correct the overbite I was going to need a very difficult corrective surgery that many dental surgeons do not have the experience to do.

This is when I met with the oral surgeon Dr. Bernard J. Costello. After he examined me and consulted with Dr. Engelmeier and Dr. Tofigh, I was assured that they can and will solve my dilemma. There is one thing that stands out among my observations of both the teacher and student, and that is their mutual respect for and trust and confidence in each other. I witnessed them professionally discussing in every detail all the steps of my procedure and all the “what ifs” before anything was done.

I know that I was not easy on the doctors with all my questions and concerns. Dr. Tofigh spent countless hours of his own time on the phone assuring me that I was on the correct course.

Even though I am only about 30 percent through the procedure, I felt it necessary to let other people know that there are angels that walk among us.

Gail Mercatell


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