Be The Match – Bone Marrow Donors

Be_The_Match_BorderI read an article today in Utah’s Deseret News by Lois M. Collins entitled, “Young adults learn it’s not so hard to save a life.”  I must admit that this article dispelled many misconceptions I had about bone marrow transplants and becoming a bone marrow donor.  I was encouraged to research the topic even further and here is a summary of what I found.  Following the link to Be the Match provided in the article, I was able to learn a lot more about those who need bone marrow transplants, the transplant process and why I believe anyone who can should make the commitment to potentially save someone’s life by registering at Be the Match.  Here are the top 10 reasons I compiled after researching this amazing, life-saving process.  So, here goes.

10.  It is free to you!  All costs including medical, travel and other expenses are paid for.

9.    Registration is quick and easy.  Just go to fill out the form and they will send you the cheek swab that provides your tissue type for matching to someone who needs a transplant.  You may be asked to donate in weeks, years or never.  But, if you are the match you will very likely be giving someone the gift of life.

8.    Donating is safe and easy.  In fact, the donation process itself is far easier than most people believe and there is virtually no risk to the donor at all.  Most people think that donating bone marrow requires surgery.  While this used to be the case, today it is done with a needle and an incision so small it doesn’t even require stitches.  There is no hospital stay (unless the procedure is done later in the day and the donor stays overnight) and donors are back to normal within 7 – 14 days.  While it does take more of a time commitment than giving blood, surely this amazing gift is worth it.  On average, the entire process takes no more than a total of 30 to 40 hours, including travel time, over 4 to 6 weeks.  During several visits prior to the actual procedure you will be given information to help with your decision, a physical exam and blood tests to confirm that you are in fact the best donor for the patient.  Remember the entire process is free and you do not donate unless you are a match.

7.    As I mentioned, above, you only donate if you are a match.  So if and when the time comes you will know that your donation is going directly to someone in need of a donation to save their life.  For now, you simply register and provide cheek swab which is used to provide information about your tissue type that is used to match you to someone in need of a transplant.

6.    By registering you increase the chances of someone finding a suitable donor.  Every year over 1,000 people die waiting for a suitable match.  There are many factors that determine whether the tissue types match.  Yours may be the perfect match, now or in the future, to save someone’s life.

5.    Hope, imagine the hope alone that you’re registration gives to the thousands of people suffering from diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases.  But better yet, encourage your family and friends to register and turn that hope into life-saving reality.

4.    It is a wonderfully selfless thing to do for someone.  The commitment to becoming a bone marrow donor is a life changing decision.  How many of us secretly wish we could make a difference in the world but don’t know how?  Well, here is a real and profound answer to that question.  You can decide right now that if there is someone out there whose life you can save with your donation you will take the time and endure the small amount of pain to give them life.

3.    Imagine if it were you, a family member or friend who needed a bone marrow transplant.  Just imagine how desperately you would be hoping, praying for a total stranger to click this link and be the match.  It is not difficult as a husband or parent to empathize with that fear and despair, better yet I chose to imagine the profound joy and relief when they find a match in time.  This is why I registered, because this is not some imaginary scenario, right now families and friends are searching and praying for a cure through a bone marrow donation.  You could be their answer.  I know it will take some time, effort and a little pain, but I hope that I can be someone’s answer too.

2.    There is a great need for people to register. In the United States alone 12,000 people per year need a bone marrow transplant in order to live and 70 percent of them do not have a donor in their family.

1.  Save someone’s life!  It is a sacrifice you will never forget and a gift that means everything.  Talk about a win-win situation.

1219418Despite all of these amazing reasons, if you are not absolutely sure that you want to do this, then don’t.  It is a very serious commitment and while I believe it is a minor inconvenience for what it achieves, registering if you can’t be sure you will follow through is worse than not registering at all.  Imagine the gut-wrenching false hope of finding a life-saving match only to learn that the donor is now unwilling to follow through.  You can still help through other ways though.  These procedures are expensive, the registration alone costs $100 (not to donors) and you can donate money instead.  You can also simply encourage others to register if you are unable.  Share this article or links to  Many people just don’t realize the need or like I did, believe that donating bone marrow is difficult, frightening and dangerous.  Once they realize what is involved and how deeply they can impact someone’s life they may make the commitment on their own.  I am happy to say I registered today and I honestly hope to have the opportunity to donate.  If you are between the ages of 18 and 44 I hope you will join me in registering with this wonderful, life saving organization.

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