Transplanting Awareness for Bone Marrow Donors
Advocacy What do leukemia, sickle cell anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome all have in common? They can all be treated with a bone marrow transplant, and a matching donor is all it takes to improve a life.
While the list of blood cancers and disorders that bone marrow transplants can help eradicate continues to grow, the positive is that there is a direct way we can help. The challenge? Most of us don't understand how.
Misconceptions about the need and the bone marrow donation process abound, but here are the facts. Every 35 seconds, someone around the world is diagnosed with a blood cancer. In the U.S. alone, this figure is every three minutes. Even more alarming than these statistics is the fact that blood cancers represent only a fraction of the variety of blood disorders—like different types of anemia and immune deficiency disorders, for example—for which a bone marrow transplant is the closest hope for a cure.
"Essentially, becoming a bone marrow donor is one of the simplest ways to dramatically and directly affect another person’s life."
With only about 30 percent of people who need a transplant able to find a matching donor in their family, the vast majority of patients will hope and search urgently for an unrelated donor match within our databases.
The search for a matching donor is far from easy. Without going into the science of it, the search is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack, rendering it extremely difficult to find a match, especially outside of one's family.
Everyone should be able to find a matching donor. One of the largest obstacles to this vision is the lack of awareness and understanding of the need for donors and the donation process. An air of mystery, fueled by the misconceptions surrounding the process, has consistently shrouded bone marrow donation. One key fact to highlight here is that there are two methods of donation, both simple outpatient procedures after which the donor’s bone marrow regenerates within just a few weeks.
Bone marrow donation is a living donation. It is easier than you think, and there is no cost for the donor. Essentially, becoming a bone marrow donor is one of the simplest ways to dramatically and directly affect another person’s life. If we can educate and register new potential donors, we can raise the funds to continue covering the costs of registering, typing and processing new potential donors. From registering as a potential donor to volunteering or helping raise money, you can help!