Friday, November 7, 2008

Registering as bone marrow donor could save a life

If you live in Western Massachusetts, you could potentially save a life by taking a short amount of time out of your day on Nov. 19 to attend a drive to register as a bone marrow donor. This does not mean that you have to become a donor; it simply means that you will join the approximately 11 million people who have signed up with the National Marrow Donor Program to possibly donate in the future.

I know how important this is, because I am alive today thanks to a generous donor whom I've yet to meet. I just know that he is a 54-year-old man who lives far enough away that his cells needed to be flown to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston when I received my first transplant a year ago, and again on June 10 when the first graft failed.

The drive will be at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. It will be preceeded by an educational event this coming Wednesday (Nov. 12). Also please note that if you are between the ages of 18 and 60, there are various ways to become a donor -- either on-line, at a donor drive like the one at Mount Holyoke, or at registration sites throughout the country. The National Marrow Donor Program website has all the information.

Here is the press release about the Mount Holyoke donor drive:

"On any given day, more than 6000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow donor Program Registry for a life-saving donor like you. For many of them who have leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases, a transplant may be their best and only hope.

The simple act of joining the Registry adds to the possibility of a life being saved. Come to our educational event on Wednesday, November 12th in Hooker, 5-6pm, to hear the real stories of donors and patients, more about the science behind a donation, and what being a donor entails.

The most important thing is to come to MHC’s donor drive and join the Bone Marrow Registry by simply having a cheek swab taken, and filling out your contact information. The Drive is Wednesday, November 19, 11am to 5pm in Chapin.

The Registry needs all donors but is especially looking for minority donors. Many minority people who are in need of a donation, cannot get one, due to the shortage of minority donors. Donations to the Registry can be paid by your MA insurance."


Ann said...

Becoming a donor is such an enormous gift. I wouldn't be here right now if not for the generosity of a woman living a world away. Thanks for posting about this.

Margaret said...

I signed up to be a bone marrow donor at Dana Farber and learned it is highly unlikely I'll ever be called. As Ronni mentioned, minority donors are desperately needed, but not the likes of me. A different friend with bone marrow cancer told me there is something else one can provide that is always needed -- platelets. Many cancer patients need lots of platelets to get them through the peaks and valleys while they are being treated. Please consider giving platelets as well as signing up to be a marrow donor. You can give platelets every three weeks. It's painless and although it takes a couple of hours, I rather enjoy having a great excuse to sit and read, doze or watch TV during daylight hours. Just make sure to give through your left arm if you do the crossword puzzle right-handed!