MEDFORD — Like many seniors tasked with coordinating a meaningful project for their final year of school, Adam Zaky wanted to do "something that could really change someone's life."

MEDFORD — Like many seniors tasked with coordinating a meaningful project for their final year of school, Adam Zaky wanted to do "something that could really change someone's life."

To that end, the South Medford High School student will spend Saturday helping coordinate a blood drive and bone marrow registry event, a combined effort between the National Marrow Donor Program and local officials for the American Red Cross.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Red Cross donation site, 1174 Progress Drive, Suite 102, Medford. It will be staffed by members of the Civil Air Patrol's Medford Composite Squadron, of which Zaky is cadet commander.

The marrow registry effort is the first for the region in recent history.

"What I'm hoping to accomplish is basically make sure the bone marrow registry program is known down here in Southern Oregon," Zaky says.

"I had never heard about it before and it's an important program, so we want to get the word out. It could make a big difference in someone's life."

Zaky says he got the idea to support the bone marrow registry after becoming familiar with South Medford High School's "Sparrow" last year, a child in need of a bone marrow transplant.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, at any given time, more than 6,000 men, women and children are awaiting a bone marrow match. The program seeks to find matches for patients in need of lifesaving transplants because of leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases.

Potential donors are often deterred by the cost ($52) of having a mouth swab done to be DNA "typed" for possible bone marrow donation, registry officials say.

Thanks to grants, however, the cost on Saturday will be $25 for Caucasians and free for minorities. Organizers say no one will be turned away for inability to pay.

Delores Rue-Jones, senior account executive for the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, says the odds of finding a match on the current registry are 1 in 20,000. She hoped the odds would improve as more donors have their DNA registered.

Christina Dunlap, territory representative for the American Red Cross Blood Services in Jackson and Josephine counties, says it is encouraging to see the Medford area have a chance to participate in the marrow registry. She says officials could not remember such an event in Southern Oregon for a dozen years or more.

"Unfortunately, there are no local ways to become a bone-marrow donor, besides having a drive like this," she says.

Dunlap says the marrow collection portion of the event could impact lives around the country.

Rue-Jones adds that Saturday's event will provide "a unique opportunity to spread the word about the need for bone marrow donors and to add to the registry."

She says she was inspired by Zaky's efforts to coordinate the event.

"I think it's absolutely awesome that a young person, particularly a high school person, would be considering the need of others at this juncture of life," she says.

"He wants to save lives. That is truly inspiration because it sets the foundation for what his future will be like."

For details, contact the Red Cross Blood Center, 842-4700. For more information on the bone marrow registry program, see www.marrow.org.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.