This March, Maryland resident, Linda, will be one of seven transplant advocates who will travel to Capitol Hill on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®. Their mission: Urge lawmakers to increase vital funding to help more patients survive blood cancers and other diseases.
Linda, and the six other patient and donor advocates, will ask Congressional members to approve a small increase in funding for the NMDP/Be TheMatch, which operates the national Be The Match Registry® through a successful public-private partnership with the federal government.
Increasing the federal appropriation would allow the NMDP/Be The Match to recruit more donors and further expand the diversity of the registry. Federal funds also go toward helping patients navigate the complexities of the health care system when preparing for transplant, as well as supporting research to discover and apply the best therapies, and improve patient outcomes.
In 2007, Linda was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer in which a certain type of white blood cells prevents the body from making enough red blood cells and platelets. Linda’s doctors told her that a bone marrow transplant was her only chance of a cure, but like most patients, the mother of three young children did not have a donor match within her family.
Linda’s medical team turned to the Be The Match Registry® in hopes of finding an unrelated donor. Ultimately, Linda’s doctors determined that an umbilical cord blood transplant was her best treatment option, and after months of waiting, Linda received her life-saving transplant in July 2008.
That’s why Linda and her fellow advocates also will ask legislators to increase federal funding for the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI). The increase would support efforts to improve patient access to innovative, life-saving transplants, including the recruitment of more minority mothers to donate their baby’s cord blood—giving more patients like Linda a second chance at life.
To learn more about our work on the Hill and to get involved, visit BeTheMatch.org/Advocacy.