One in 25 Million: Marrow donor represents the need for more potential marrow donors—and the hope they offer blood cancer patientsShow Content
The world’s bone marrow donor registries hit a significant milestone this year when the number of potential volunteer bone marrow donors listed on global registries reached 25 million people—about half of which are on the national Be The Match Registry.
One of those 25 million people is Linda, a 33-year-old mother of two from California who joined the registry in 2011.
Her motivation was very personal—her brother was fighting for his life and needed a bone marrow transplant. Linda hoped to be his match. When Linda learned that she was not a match for her brother, it was heartbreaking. She couldn’t save him and he didn’t survive. But, Linda was still on the registry. And two years after registering, she received a call out of the blue. She wasn’t a match for her brother, but she was a match for someone else—a middle-aged woman in need of a cure.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be a match for someone else,” Linda said. “The call hit very close to home and brought back memories of my brother. After speaking with my family, I decided I would go forward with the process in honor of him.”
Linda underwent a nonsurgical peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation procedure and received a letter about one month later: The transplant was a success, and her cells had engrafted with the patient.
The news brought Linda to tears. “I was overwhelmed with joy,” she said.
Linda is grateful that she had the opportunity to help save a life, and feels like her brother really made her life-saving donation possible. Every story like Linda’s—every person who joins the registry and those that are called to donate to a patient—give patients hope and inspiration.
But even with 25 million people on worldwide registries, more donors are needed. 25 million people represent less than 1% of the world’s adult population—and 1% is not enough. Someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer every three minutes, and many of them rely on the worldwide registries to find a matching donor.
Donors have saved hundreds of thousands of lives through bone marrow transplants—but an equal number of patients couldn’t find a donor match. Patients are most likely to match someone of their same race or ethnicity, so we need the most diverse registry possible to give all patients an equal chance for a life-saving transplant.
As Linda’s story shows, one person is all it takes to find a matching bone marrow donor for a patient. “You don’t just make a difference in the life of the patient, but you also impact everyone around them,” Linda said. “You never know, you could be someone’s hero.”
Like Linda, you have tremendous power. You might be the only person in the world who is the right match for a patient with blood cancer. You could hold the key to a life-saving treatment. You could cure cancer. No matter how big the registry gets, we will always need you.
We have no time to lose. You could help us provide a cure for a patient who is searching for a matching bone marrow donor right now. Please visit BeTheMatch.org to learn more and join the Be The Match Registry of potential bone marrow donors.