Monday, March 10, 2014

Be A Match

I know, I'm pretty late jumping on the band wagon, if you can actually call it that, maybe more a public service announcement?

Lizzi, aka The Considerer, and Zoe from Rewritten have brought the attention to a young boy in need of a blood marrow donor to save his life. But not only little Steven needs a donor, thousands of people worldwide are hoping every day for the call that a donor was found. Most cases are not known, many people suffer and die in quit, but they are still there.

So what can YOU do?  Find a local or national bone marrow registry and get registered. It's easy and completely painless: cells are taken with a cheek swab, examined, and your markers saved in the registry.

The largest bone marrow registry in the U.S. is Be A Match, which also shares its information with other registries worldwide. You can join the registry online and receive your test swabs in the mail or search for a local bone marrow drive.

If you live in the U.K., register at the British Bone Marrow Registry. If you are a regular (or first time) blood donor, an extra sample can be taken during that appointment to determine your markers for the registry. If you are not a blood donor, simply contact the BBMR via phone or email for further information.

I, myself, am registered with the German bone marrow database, DKMS. Registration was easy and painless. I know that the chances of ever receiving a call is only about 5%, but should the call ever come, I will be ready to donate.

You are eligible to become a donor if you are generally healthy and between the age of 18 and 59. The process of donation is described at the homepage of the BBMR:

The first, and most frequently used, is to donate stem cells from circulating blood. For the four days preceding the donation a nurse will inject you with a drug which vastly increases the number of stem cells in your circulating blood. On the fifth day you will have a blood test to check that you have enough circulating stem cells. You will then be connected to a cell-separator machine, without the need for a general anaesthetic. The machine collects the stem cells from your blood via a vein in one arm, returning the blood to your body through a vein in your other arm. If you are already a platelet donor you will be familiar with this type of machine. Occasionally you may be asked back on the sixth day for a further donation, if the dose of cells obtained is not sufficient.

The second method is donation of bone marrow itself, which involves the removal of stem cells from your hip bones. This is done using a needle and syringe under a general anaesthetic in a hospital. Although this is not a surgical operation, there will be marks on the skin made by the needle. As there may be some discomfort where the needle has been inserted, you will need to stay in hospital for up to 48 hours and have a period of recovery at home of up to five days.

So gather your information, get registered, and maybe save a live. Should you not be eligible or able to register, you can still help by donating. Testing all those countless tissue samples and storing the information is expensive, and all registries, big and small, are thankful; even small amounts help. Especially consider registering if you are a minority or bi-racial, as it is often especially difficult to find matches for those groups.

Thank you all so much for reading and considering your options!


  1. I really need to get registered. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. I'm glad you're planning on getting registered, Jen. It's such an easy thing to do, and you may be the one match to save someone's life!

  2. My church had a swabbing party to get whoever wanted registered! It's exciting to think that if someone matches me I could help save his or her life! :-)

    1. That's great, Susannah! I read that only about 5% of registered donors are ever called to donate, but especially because of that it's so important to increase the number of registered donors, to improve the chances for a match. Thank you for being part of this wonderful cause!