Last year, only a handful of volunteers compiled by the National Marrow Donor Program were from Utah or surrounding states. One year later, thanks to the operations of the new Intermountain Donor Center, the area boasts more than 600 volunteers.

The local donor center began operations last fall, and it serves as a registry for volunteers willing to donate blood marrow for patients with fatal blood diseases, such as leukemia.That's a positive note during National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, April 21-27.

"The willingness of area residents to volunteer as potential bone marrow donors continues to show their significant commitment to help those in need," said Dr. R. Myron Laub, medical director of the Intermountain Marrow Donor Program.

Each year 16,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with fatal blood diseases such as leukemia, for which a marrow transplant can be a cure. Marrow is the soft organic material that fills the cavities of the larger bones of the body. The chances of identifying a match between unrelated persons ranges from one in a hundred to one in a million, depending on the individuals' tissue types.

Organizers of the national donor program, which is a congressionally authorized registry, have a goal of listing 1 million volunteer donors worldwide by 1995. Volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who are in good health can be potential donors.

For more information, call Intermountain Donor Center coordinator Mark Austin at 321-1150 or the national hot line at 1-800-654-1247.