Saturday, November 1, 2008

National Marrow Donor Program

Mom received a phone call a couple of months ago from a woman at Life Source. The woman called to inform mom that she might be a match for someone needing a bone marrow transplant.

There are 7 million potential bone marrow donors in the U.S. and mom has been one for four years. It all started with a blood drive for a co-worker's wife. The blood drive was held at the school their children attended. Mom initially was just going to donate blood but the registration person asked mom if she wanted to participate in the National Marrow Donor Program and mom said yes. Like I said that was four years ago and mom had never heard anything from them.

So why would someone need to donate bone marrow? Every year, thousands of adults and children need bone marrow transplants; a procedure which may be their only chance for survival. Although some patients with aplastic anemia, leukemia or other cancers have a genetically matched family member who can donate, about 70 percent do not. These patients’ lives depend on finding an unrelated individual with a compatible tissue type, often within their own ethnic group, who is willing to donate marrow.

On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow Donor Program registry for a life-saving donor like mom. Once she was contacted as a potential match for a patient, she was asked if she was still interested in participating in the program. Mom said yes and was then asked some questions about her health history. At this point the patient's doctor needed additional blood from mom so that more testing could be done to determine if she was the best match. She was likely one of several people being tested and her chance of being selected at this point was about 1 in 12. Mom drove over to the Life Source branch in our area where she answered a 5 page questionnaire about her health history and then 5 bottles of blood were drawn. She was told that in 4-6 weeks she would either receive a phone call that she is a good match or she would receive a letter in a mail that a better match was found.

Last Saturday mom received a letter from Life Source saying that a better match was found. Mom is greatful that the person needing bone marrow had found someone that matched and was willing to donate. Not all people needing bone marrow transplants are this lucky. There is an ever growing needed for bone marrow donors even though there are already millions. If you are between the ages of 18-60 please consider joining the National Marrow Donor Program. Your heritage can make all the difference, so African American, American Indian, Asian, and Latino donors are urgently needed.

Even though mom was not a good match this time, she remains on the registry. She knows how important good health is and she never takes hers for granted. So get involved. For additional information on the program or to join the registry, go to You may one day save a life.

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