A New Chance at Life for Patients Over 50

Posted June 26th, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in News
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Did you know that anyone at any age has the potential to receive a marrow transplant if needed? This hasn’t always been the case, however. Several years ago, transplant doctors were wary about administering marrow transplants for patients over age 50. That changed when research on the treatment of blood cancers and diseases showed that a patient’s overall medical condition is more important than age alone.

Over-50 (1)

In order for a patient to receive a marrow transplant, the diseased marrow in their body must first be completely eliminated using chemotherapy and/or radiation. Then, the recipient’s marrow is replaced with a donor’s healthy marrow. Unfortunately, due to other existing medical conditions, using high doses of chemotherapy to eliminate the diseased marrow is often hard for older patients to endure.

Despite these findings, there are still preconceived notions around marrow transplants and age. For instance, PBSC transplant patient Bob, diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) at age 57 didn’t believe transplant was an option for him. Before receiving a PBSC transplant in 2005, Bob believed he would have better success with other treatment options, due to his age.

“I had read an article, years and years ago, 20 years before this happened, back in a waiting room somewhere, and it put this image in mind that transplants should be avoided at all costs. So I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but said if this is the only way, go ahead,” said Bob.

Patient over 50

“I was happy to be in remission and have that as an option but I should have been more aware since years ago when I read the article that technology has come a long way and is much better than it [was] back then.”

During this decade, the portion of transplant recipients older than 60 has more than doubled. Because many researchers and doctors have dedicated time to advancing treatments for older patients, this group of patients continues to be the fastest growing age group of transplant recipients. In 2014, nearly 47 percent of Be The Match® facilitated transplants were for this group of patients.

Through these medical advances, recent research has shown that age should not be a barrier to transplant. Read more about additional life-saving advances in marrow transplant research.

34 Responses to “A New Chance at Life for Patients Over 50”

  1. Sylvia Truesdale says:

    I have 2 brothers that would like to see if they are a match for me. If they are tested by “Be The Match”, how does their test connected to me.

    I have Myleodysplastic Syndrome that is advancing, platelets-26,000, neutofils – .6. I have had 3 bone marrow tests and am rapidly approaching a 4th. More chemotherapy is on the horizon.

    One of my brothers has been put into the Kansas adoption service to find him. There are 3 of us left. We were all put in separate homes. Hopefully, we will be able to find him.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sylvia,

      We are so sorry to hear that you aren’t doing well. If your brothers are on the registry, they will automatically be looked at as potential donors, along with all other registry members. If your doctor has not searched the database for a donor yet, you can also have your brothers tested for you by your doctor directly. Typically, siblings have a 25% chance of matching. Should they still need to join the registry they can do so here: https://join.bethematch.org/

      Sending our best wishes to you,

      Be The Match

  2. manzarm says:

    Nice article regarding bone marrow.

  3. Jeanne Genova-Goldstein says:

    I am 60, and have MS, and though I am stable, I am on a lot of medications. Would I be considered as a donor?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jeanne,

      You do have the option to sign up for the registry until you are 61 years old, however, you would need to pay the $100 fee to join. If you could please give us a call at 1-800-627-7692 and we would be able to answer your health question regarding MS.

      There are other ways to support the cause as well! If you would like to learn more, you can find information here: https://bethematch.org/Support-the-Cause/

      Our Best Wishes,
      Be The Match

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