Advocate Spotlight: Gary Goldstein

Posted April 26th, 2018 by Be The Match and filed in News
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Gary Goldstein is currently the Business Manager for the adult BMT program at Stanford Health Care, an NMDP/Be The Match Network transplant center. He is also the current Chair of the NMDP/Be The Match Council Advisory Group, and he has served on the NMDP/Be The Match Board of Directors.

But his passion for promoting the mission goes beyond serving on committees. And that passion started more than two decades ago. Here, in Gary’s own words, are why he’s driven to support NMDP/Be The Match.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Why are you so passionate about the National Donor Marrow Program/Be The Match? How did you get involved?

I began working for the Stanford Health Care BMT Program in 1995. Shortly after that I joined the registry, was matched with a patient, and donated bone marrow. Although my cells engrafted in the recipient, his disease returned and he passed away.

I want to do all I can to ensure that everyone who needs a match finds one, and that people who do undergo hematopoietic cell transplantation survive to live full and happy lives.

You went to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers. What was that like? Scary? Educational? Fun?

Washington has recently been referred to as a “swamp,” but I found that the people I met with are working hard to try and get things accomplished. They listened to our input, asked good questions, and were very engaged. It was exciting to be there, but a bit overwhelming with so many buildings, tunnels, hallways, and offices. It’s very easy to get lost!

Advocacy and policy is a unique way to volunteer. What made you decide to take action?

I’m very proud of the work Be The Match does, as well as the work of transplant programs here in the U.S.A. Having a chance to have my voice heard was very empowering, and I always think of patients and their families that need our help.

You met with your lawmakers before your trip to D.C. What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t worked with their lawmaker before?

Lawmakers and their staff have very busy schedules, so make sure your message is clear, focused, and on point.

You asked your health system to get involved and have helped co-sponsors to sign on to HR 4215, the PACT Act. How did that come about?

As the Stanford BMT Business Manager, I see how Medicare pays hospitals for organ procurement such as kidney acquisition, but doesn’t pay for acquisition of marrow, blood stem cells, or cord blood. This isn’t sustainable, and I want to ensure that Medicare patients have access to all the types of treatment that those with commercial insurance can get. The more voices, the stronger the message.

Any advice to other advocates?

Make sure to show how the legislation or changes you’re advocating will help real people. That was easy to do for BMT and Be The Match, because the need is so powerful and compelling.

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