More than 50,000 people die every year from bloodin the US. Many of these deaths are preventable because the patients could have been treated with a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Many people with blood have no bone marrow match in their family, but the National Bone Marrow Registry manages a database with millions of potential competitions. Donating bone marrow is safe, easy and free, so here is why you are considering registering now.
How do you sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry
The National Marrow Donor Program manages an organization, Be The Match, which serves as the largest and most diverse bone marrow registry in the world, with 20 million members.
Almost everyone in the US can participate, and last year alone performed 6,200 transplants. Be The Match not only guides patients through the entire bone marrow transplantation process, but also through healthcare professionals, research and advocates for important legislative bodies.
There is a fairly simple registration process for Be The Match – first you want to create an account. You then complete a medical history form to ensure that you are eligible. You then submit a DNA sample to determine who you can donate to. Be The Match has events with cheek smear kits that you can test on the spot. On his website you can search in your zip code to find an event in your area, or you can also e-mail a package if you cannot go.
Participation in the register is not a guarantee that you have to donate – – it can take years, or never, before you are contacted as a match for someone in need.
Why is bone marrow donation important?
Nearly 200,000 people in the US are diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma every year. One of those people dies every nine minutes. Bone marrow transplants are an effective treatment and give countless people a second chance in life, but 70% of diagnosed patients do not have a suitable donor in their family and therefore 3000 people die every year.
The way doctors determine who is the right match for donating bone marrow to a person who needs it, by looking at your type of human leukocyte antigens. HLA are the proteins that your body uses to determine which cells in your body are safe and which foreign invaders.
HLA type is hereditary, so your siblings or parents can be a good match if you need a bone marrow transplant. But because that is not always the case, doctors must find the best match and that is where you enter. By registering with Be The Match, doctors can find out if you have the same HLA type as the patient they are treating.  Who can donate bone marrow?
To donate marrow, first wipe your cheek and present it to Be the Match.
Be The Match has guidelines for the registry to protect the health of all involved. You must be between 18 and 60 years old, live in the US, and be willing to donate to future competitions. You must also comply with certain health guidelines. If you have conditions such as severe arthritis, HIV / AIDS or Hepatitis C, you cannot donate bone marrow. If you are concerned about the impact of health problems or medication on your ability to donate bone marrow, contact your doctor.
Does it hurt?
TV shows & films often portray bone marrow extraction as a horrible process, but you can trust that this is not accurate. More than 75% of the procedures extract peripheral blood stem cells, which do not require surgery. Simply take a prescription to increase the number of blood stem cells in your system, and a doctor will perform a procedure similar to having your blood taken a few days later. For the remaining surgical procedures, the patient is under anesthesia and feels nothing.
The procedure to donate bone marrow and medical examinations is free for donors.
How else can I help?
If you have a condition that prevents you from donating bone marrow or are already registered in the registry and still want to help, you can take a number of actions. You can donate financially to Be The Match, do volunteer work for a bone marrow drive, help with legislative advocacy or raise funds for the organization.
Via Be The Match you can also donate your baby's umbilical cord, a safe and free procedure that can also treat blood cancer.
There are also other organizations that will help you become a member of the bone marrow register, such as Gift of Life and DKMS.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.