Alex is 18. She’s a volunteer firefighter in Cambridge, VT and she’s been fighting leukemia since October 2018. Just before her high school graduation in early June she learned she relapsed, but she was able to participate in the ceremony. But while others were celebrating later that day, Alex was checking into the hospital. Alex needs a blood stem cell transplant to beat leukemia.
Could you be the matching donor she needs?
The Search for a Match
Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. For many of these patients, a marrow or blood stem cell transplant is the only chance for a cure. However, a transplant is possible only when the patient and donor have matching tissue types. Only 30% of the patients in need will find a match within their immediate family. The other 70% of patients must search for an unrelated donor.
The chances of finding a match vary widely, depending on the patient’s ethnicity. Because tissue types are inherited in the same way as skin, eye and hair color, the best chance of finding a donor is within the patient’s ethnic background, so the need for ethnically diverse donors is particularly great.
Patients searching for a match have already been through a lot. They have received chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and sometimes several difference courses of treatment. While these treatments may have worked for a while, their diseases have returned and they now need a transplant to live. Their family members have already been tested, and no match has been found.
Adding new donors to the NMDP/BTM Registry gives hope to the thousands of patients searching every day.
Finding A Match
Becoming A Donor
Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 44, and be in good health.
2 Ways to Donate – the patient’s doctor chooses the donation method that is best. Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure. The donor receives a series of injections over 5 days to boost the number of cells in their blood stream. On donation day, the cells are removed via an automated blood donation – similar to a platelet donation. This is the procedure used about 80% of the time.
Marrow donation is a surgical, outpatient procedure that takes place in a hospital operating room. While the donor is under anesthesia, doctors collect blood stem cells from the back of their pelvic b one. Your back will be sore for a few days with this procedure, which is done about 20% of the time.
Commitment It’s important, once you’ve registered, to stay committed. Patients and their families are counting on potential donors to say “Yes” when asked to donate. It can be devastating for them when a potential match is unresponsive or unwilling to donate – and it happens too often. The patient may not have another match, or delays in the search for another match may be life threatening for the patient.
Stop by the BE THE MATCH booth at our Vendor Fair on Saturday.