Monday, June 29, 2009

Be the Match Registry for Allison

Dear Friends and Family,

Every day we are faced with decisions. Some decisions we make are life-changing. Other decisions we make touch someone else’s life. I am pleased to offer you an opportunity to make a decision that can do both—change your life and touch someone else’s life.

BE THE MATCH Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program at City of Hope, offers hope to Allison Zicree and the thousands of children and adults like her whose treatment may include a bone marrow transplant.

Joining is easy:

The first step is to complete a registration form, and brief health questionnaire. You can start the process on-line. (This link allows donors to join at no cost.)

In a week or so, you’ll receive a buccal swab kit in the mail. This kit includes Q tip-like swabs which you’ll swirl inside of your mouth to collect cells. These swabs are sent to a laboratory which will then test your sample to determine your tissue type. Your tissue type will then be put into the registry which Allison may one day rely on to find a bone marrow donor.

Finally, the most important step is to stay committed. Like Allison, patients who don’t have a brother or sister who matches them, rely on the generosity of volunteer donors to save their life. The likelihood of ever matching someone and being asked to donate is very slim. But if you are that “one in a million” match, you might just be the only known person that matches a patient.

Donating bone marrow:

The liklihood of every being called as a matched donor is very slim. It’s like finding your twin in the world. However, if you are called, it’s important to understand the next steps-

1- Donors are notified by telephone that they might be a match to a patient in need. Your health status would be re-evaluated, and a blood test would be scheduled to determine if you were the best matched donor. At this stage, the confirmatory stage, most donors do not advance. Our experience is that about 1 in 10 donors who are called in for additional testing are actually asked to donate.

2- If you are the “best match” for a patient and asked to donate, it’s exciting! You are the one person who can make a huge impact on a very sick child or adult. This step requires a physical exam to make sure it is safe for you to donate. After the exam, a donation date would be set. Normally, the date is about four weeks after the exam. This allows for the patient to have more chemotherapy.

There are two ways to donate:

· Twenty percent of donors are requested to donate traditional bone marrow. Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days afterwards.

· Eighty percent of donors are asked to donate “bone marrow cells” through a blood donation process called Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation. PBSC donatoin involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm. Donors are required to take a medication for five days prior to increase their blood cell production. This method is very similar to platelet and blood donation.

Spread the word:

Tell your family and friends about the critical need for more donors on the Be the Match Registry and ways they can support the Be The Match Registry’s life-saving work. Email this page to all of your family and friends, and encourage friends and family to join our work through your connections on Facebook and Twitter.

Millions have joined the Be The Match Registry, but there are still not enough donors to meet the needs of all patients. It is estimated that a marrow or blood cell transplant could benefit more than 10,000 children and adults with life-threatening diseases each year. We need your help!

Make the decision to do it.
Do it because you care.
Do it because you can.

You have the power to heal, the power to save a life.
Any questions may be sent to:

Jill Kendall-Erb, program director.
Be the Match Registry at City of Hope

1 comment:

  1. I became a donor last year. I SO wish I could be the match for sweet Allison. I have two girls of my own, so my heart truly goes out to you. I'll be following your story! Many prayers and blessings to you.