I have been meaning for a long time to sign up for the bone marrow donor registry. A friend of mine was in the registry since college and was selected a couple years ago as a match for a patient in need. He had nothing but positive things to say about the experience, but for some reason I never got around to joining. Today I finally took that step and completed my registration and dropped it back in the mail.
Now one thing I wasn’t aware of prior to his experience being selected as a donor was that donating bone marrow these days involves one of two methods. There is still the old standard method where they sedate the donor and use a needle to draw marrow from the hipbone, but a majority of the time they can use a newer less invasive method. This new method involves giving the donor medicine that causes an overproduction of bone marrow cells such that the cells end up in the blood stream. Then the donor is hooked to a machine that draws out blood from one arm, processes it to separate and store the marrow cells, and then restores the blood back via the other arm. No sedation or needles in the bone required.
Unfortunately for many patients in need, the chances of finding a match are low, so as a potential donor on the registry, being selected is really a small miracle. But if you are selected, you have the opportunity to change that individual’s life forever.
What finally got me off the fence was a video posted last week on Michael Pusateri’s Cruftbox blog here: How to test for being a bone marrow donor. After seeing how simple it was I had no reason not to finally get signed up.
Take 2 minutes to watch the video and then head over to the National Marrow Donor Program website and signup to be a donor. It costs no money (though you can donate if you like) and they will mail you everything you need in a couple of days. You swab your cheeks, put the swabs in the envelope, and drop it in the mail. You could literally end up saving someone’s life.
Also, for the expectant mothers out there, you can also make a huge difference by donating umbilical cord blood after the birth. Find out more info at the Marrow Donor site here: Donate Cord Blood