Tommy received a bone marrow donation during his fight with HSTCL. It prolonged his life by many months. We may have lost him sooner without it. Tommy found his match from a 21 year-old in Italy on a European registry.
For thousands of people diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma every year, bone marrow transplantation may be their only hope and the Be The Match registry may be he only hope for many.
The Tommy Kid Foundation plans to support Be The Match in every way we can, but it does not stop there. We need your help too.
On average, there are 17,500 people every year (aged anywhere from 1 to 75 years old) in the United States that are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases where a bone marrow transplant is their best treatment option, regardless of if the donor is related or unrelated to them.
There is an astounding 30 million potential marrow donors and 742,000 cord blood units available across the globe. However, it is still harder for patients of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds to find a match.
To register as a bone marrow donor, a person swabs the inside of his or her cheek in order to provide the DNA needed to identify if he or she is a bone marrow match for someone.
To be a bone marrow donor in America, a person should be between 18 and 60 years old and in good health.
The Bone Marrow Registry is always in need of more people to sign up. Here are a few alarming facts that punctuate this:
- As per 2014, 70% of patients in need of a marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family.
- A bone marrow transplant can save the life of someone battling leukemia, lymphoma, or another blood cancer.
- Young people 18 to 25 years old are the bone marrow donors needed most.
Doctors use needles to withdraw liquid marrow at both sides of the pelvic bone. Patients undergo anesthesia and feel no pain during the process. On average, the hospital stay for this type of donation is from early morning to late afternoon, or at times overnight for further observation.
Worried about your own marrow count? There's no need to. After donation, bone marrow replaces itself within four to six weeks.
If you are a potential match for a patient, you will be contacted at any or all steps of the patient search process:
Step 1. During a transplant center’s preliminary search of the Be The Match Registry, when you’re ranked high on a list of potential donors who are a possible match for a patient.
Step 2. When a patient’s doctor requests additional testing of your HLA tissue sample (that you provided when you joined the registry) to determine if you’re a good match, helping to narrow the list of potential donors.
Watch patients, caregivers and transplant experts explain what the donor search process is like.
Step 3. For confirmatory typing when a patient’s doctor requests a blood sample from you for additional testing to determine if you’re the best donor for the patient.
All medical expenses related to additional testing and donation will be covered by the patient’s insurance or by Be The Match®.
At each stage you will be asked to:
After any testing stage, it may take up to 60 days for the patient’s doctor to review the results, select a donor and decide to move forward with a transplant.
Marrow donation is a surgical procedure that takes place in an operating room. The donation will be scheduled at a hospital that partners with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). In some cases, the hospital may be near your home. In other cases, you may be asked to travel. We will guide you through the process and be available the day of your marrow donation.
Marrow donation is done under general or regional anesthesia so the donor experiences no pain during the collection procedure.
Discomfort and side effects vary from person to person. Most marrow donors experience some side effects after donation.
Common side effects of marrow donation include:
Some donors said the experience was more painful than they expected; others said it was less painful. Some donors describe the pain as similar to achy hip bones or falling on their buttocks. Others say it feels more like a strained muscle in the back. The ache may last a few days to several weeks.
We want to assure donor safety, but no medical procedure is risk-free. The majority of donors from the Be The Match Registry feel completely recovered within a few weeks. A small percentage (2.4%) of donors experience a serious complication due to anesthesia or damage to bone, nerve or muscle in their hip region.
The risk of side effects of anesthesia during marrow donation is similar to that during other surgical procedures. Serious side effects of anesthesia are rare. Common side effects of general anesthesia include sore throat (caused by the breathing tube) or mild nausea and vomiting. Common side effects of regional anesthesia are a decrease in blood pressure and a headache after the procedure.
We take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of the donor. To learn more, see Donor safety and support.