Do you know what it is like to get the news that a nine year old boy in your family has leukemia and only has six months to live? When we got the news of Jacob’s Leukemia, my Aunt Sharon ran outside in the rain and started screaming and crying. She had always dreamed of seeing Jacob graduate from college and be at his wedding. Now what would you do if I told you that you could help save Jacob’s life or someone else’s life with a marrow donation which your body regenerates within a few weeks? A bone marrow transplant was needed for Jacob to survive.
Jacob’s brothers were tested but they were not a match. According to the National Marrow Donor Program, about seventy percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. These families turn to the National Bone Marrow Program’s, “Be the Match Registry”, to help them find a potential donor. Kathleen Kingsbury in a Time magazine article stated that “today a matching donor from the national registry is found only about 25% of the time, and that many patients die waiting. ” My whole family is on the national bone marrow registry.
My research into bone marrow transplants and family experience has taught me how wonderful bone marrow transplants can be for saving lives. You never know if one day you or one of your family members will be faced by one of the fifty plus types of cancers that can be cured by a bone marrow transplant. I hope that you will consider putting your name on the “Be the Match Registry” in order to hopefully be some person’s angel. Today, I would like to discuss why you should be a bone marrow donor, the three types of bone marrow donations, and the typing used to match patients and donors.
There are many reasons to join the bone marrow registry. The main reason is to help to save someone’s life. The Institute for Justice states that the national registry of marrow donors consists of only two percent of the population of people in the world. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association there are more than 140,000 people each year that are diagnosed with a type of blood cancer than can be helped by a bone marrow transplant. The NCPA further states that six out of ten patients never get the transplant that they need.
By joining the “Be the Match Registry”, you can increase the donor pool and increase a patient’s chance for life. Now that we have talked about the reasons you should be a bone marrow donor, let us move on to talking about the three types of bone marrow donations. There are three different sources of marrow donation. The first type uses stem cells from discarded umbilical cords. Cord blood transplants according to Kathleen Kingsbury are a better match between unrelated donors because this type is rejected less often by patients’ bodies.
The second type of marrow donation uses bone marrow that is withdrawn from the pelvic bones of donors. This is a surgery where the donor is under general anesthesia and feels no pain during the surgery. The third type of marrow donation is done using peripheral blood stem cell collection. According to the Institute of Justice seventy percent of the marrow donations are done with the peripheral blood way. Blood is removed from you intravenously just like when you donate blood. The blood is run through a filter system which removes the stem cells and then the blood is returned to you.
Now that we have talked about the sources of marrow donations, let us move on towards how patients are matched with donors. Donors need to closely match the tissue type of the person receiving the transplant. Human leukocyte antigens or HLA make up a person’s tissue type. These are three pairs of proteins that are found on the surface of cells. We get one of each of these pairs from our mother and our father. According to the American Cancer Society, doctors prefer to get good matches of these antigens preferably a six out of six match.
There are thousands of combinations of HLA tissue types so it is hard to find close matches. This is why it is even harder to find matches for mixed racial people. In conclusion, I hope you will today go online to the National Marrow Donor Program to add your name to this donor list. Think of how many more lives could be saved if we were able to increase the number of people on the “Be the Match Registry” from two percent to just five percent. Please take a look at this graph by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There were 2,600 transplants performed in 2005, but with more donors being added to the list the number of transplants in 2011 increased dramatically to 5,500. Jacob’s angel came from England and he received his transplant on Thanksgiving Eve of 1993. On March 9th of this year, we got to see him marry a wonderful girl who is a nurse. As we heard them say their vows, there was not a dry eye in the church as we all remembered that day in 1993 when we got his leukemia news. Now his future is bright all due to a wonderful unknown donor who saved his life. So please be someone’s angel and add your name to this national marrow registry.