This month, my wife and I along with eight guests had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Be The Match (National Marrow Donor Program) Gala. The event is something we support and always look forward to attending.
As an organization, Be the Match (BTM) www.bethematch.org is focused on building a registry and supporting research to solve blood diseases. Their approach is twofold; first be a clearinghouse for donors and those in need of a bone marrow transplant, and second support innovative research in the development of ways to cure blood diseases. What they do is one of those things in life that “says easy, does hard.”
While BTM is full of hard-working employees and volunteers, they are limited to how many lives they can save due to the limited supply of bone marrow donors. To help save a life, the first step to becoming a donor is very simple and requires getting your DNA profiled by swabbing your mouth with a Q-tip. That’s it! It literally takes about three seconds. Then, if you’re lucky enough to be a match, you get the honor of saving a life.
At the gala we saw a donor meet his recipient for the first time. He was an Illinois State Trooper who randomly decided to join the BTM registry. He told the story about how he had always imagined he would save a life by dragging someone from a burning car or jumping in a rushing river but never in his wildest dreams did he think he would save a life by laying on a table “giving blood.” Well that’s his story. He saved a life by getting his cheek swabbed.
So, what’s the problem? Why are people still dying waiting for a bone marrow transplant? The simple answer is people AREN’T getting involved. People aren’t willing to help for a variety of reasons. Last night we met a young girl who had FIVE viable matches to save her life but none of them would take that next step of donating their bone marrow. This happens frequently because donating bone marrow can be a little scary. Be The Match does a great job explaining this process on their website (donating blood marrow ) to hopefully quell those fears.
One complicating factor of being a match is that the donor and recipient need to be of the same race/ethnicity. It’s complicated biology, but if you’re of the same race/ethnicity you have a much better chance of being a successful match. What are the current odds of finding a match by race?
- African American or Black – 23% chance of finding a match in the BTM Registry.
- Asian or Pacific Islander – 41% chance of finding a match in the BTM Registry.
- Hispanic or Latino – 46% chance of finding a match in the BTM Registry.
- American Indian or Alaskan Native – 57% chance of finding a match in the BTM Registry.
- White – 77% chance of finding a match in the BTM Registry.
The results for all races and ethnicities could be and should be greater than 75% for finding a match. All it takes is for you and me to get involved. If you are between the ages of 18 – 44 they want and need you. They want and need all races and ethnicities to sign up. It’s FREE, it’s painless and like the Illinois State Trooper, you may just save a life with almost no effort.
To join the BTM REGISTRY and save a life just click the link. You never know whose life you’ll be saving or if some day your life or one of your loved ones life will depend on it.