World Marrow Donor Day is September 16!

Posted September 8th, 2017 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News
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Did you know that nearly 50% of all marrow transplants use international donations?

Be The Match is one of 100 organizations from 57 countries that celebrate World Marrow Donor Day. The day is dedicated to thanking marrow donors, as well as registry members, who are ready to donate to any patient if called. It is also a day to help raise awareness about marrow donation – both the need for volunteer donors and the impact it has on patients.

On behalf of all patients, we want to thank each donor for their selfless decision to donate to those in need of a life-saving marrow transplant.

We also want to thank all registry members for their continued commitment to help any patient. There are more than 30 million people across the globe who have registered to donate marrow to any patient if they are a match.

Many people are still unaware of the need for volunteer marrow donors and the process of marrow donation. You can help spread the word of the life-saving impact donation can have.

Help us celebrate World Marrow Donor Day!

  • Thank donors and registry members on social media by saving and sharing the Thank You graphic. Tag Be The Match in your post and use hashtags #ThankYouDonor, #WMDD and #BeTheMatch.
  • Use our World Marrow Donor Day Facebook profile frame on September 16:
    • Hover over your Facebook profile image and click “Update Profile Picture” then click “Add Frame”
    • Search for “World Marrow Donor Day” and select one of the Be The Match World Marrow Donor Day frames
    • Position the frame over your profile image and click “Use as Profile Picture”
  • Tune in as Nicolette Peloquin, peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donor and Miss Rhode Island 2017, goes live for a donor Q&A on the Be The Match Facebook page Sept. 16 at 3pm CT. She will talk about her donation experience and answer viewer questions.
  • Encourage friends and family to join the registry by sharing Join.BeTheMatch.org/WMDD2017

A story of life-saving generosity

Posted July 28th, 2017 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Jox, donor, with his family

Being selfless can mean different things to different people.  Parents are often described as selfless when it comes to loving their children or giving them all they need in order to succeed in life.

But what do you call someone who has given so much of themselves to others?

Jox, with his mother-in-law, after donation (both center)

Jox is a 43 year old teacher, father and husband – and the ultimate altruist. In 2008, he donated blood-forming stem cells to help a searching patient in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. But his selflessness didn’t stop there. Jox went on to donate a kidney to his mother in law whose kidneys began to fail after her battle with cancer, he cut off 10 inches of his hair for Locks of Love (yes, he had a “sick mullet”), and Jox has donated more than 11 gallons of blood to Memorial Blood Centers. Generosity is at the core of who he is.

Jox joined the Be The Match Registry during his college days, when a nurse brought it up during one of his blood donations.

Jox, donor

Fast forward to 2008 when he got a call that he was a potential match to a searching patient. Jox said he didn’t know a lot about the individual – only their age, gender and diagnosis. But he never once hesitated to commit. He donated bone marrow that same year, and said that the collection hurt less than raking the yard.

He recently reflected on the process; “It’s bigger than just the patient. My donation is extending someone’s life, and that not only effects the life of the patient but it also impacts the lives of their family and friends.”

Jox wants others to be inspired to sign up to the Be The Match Registry. When asked what he would say to other people considering joining the registry, he replied, “Do it yesterday. Put yourself in the situation where you need something and you’re out of options, but there are people who have exactly what you need to live. By donating, the person you are helping gets more time on earth to live.”

To join the registry on Jox’s behalf, please visit https://join.bethematch.org/DonorJox

“Having my wisdom teeth removed hurt worse …”

Posted June 13th, 2017 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Samantha, marrow donor

“Honestly, having my wisdom teeth removed hurt worse than donating marrow. I was under anesthesia and not awake during the procedure. I was in the hospital at 5 a.m. and out by 11 a.m. For about a week and a half I was a little sore, like I had fallen down. And time-wise, it was nothing – especially compared to other things I’ve done, like being on the high school swim team with the grueling training before and after school.”

Samantha was fortunate to meet the man she donated to, Ron. “It’s mind-blowing and cool to think that something I did that was so simple let Ron walk his daughter down the aisle, see his son graduate from law school, and witness the birth of his first grandchild.”

When Samantha was 18, she was already a regular blood donor. When she learned about the need for marrow donors, she researched Be The Match online and joined soon after. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.” In October 2012, she got the call that she was a potential match for a 55-year-old man with acute myeloid leukemia. She went in for additional testing, then went on to donate.

Ron, transplant recipient, with Samantha, marrow donor

Samantha’s recipient, Ron

In 2012, Ron learned that his leukemia, which had been in remission for two years, was back. His doctors told him that a marrow transplant was his best and only hope for a cure.

With no siblings, Ron turned to Be The Match to find a donor match. Within the month, Ron’s doctors had narrowed the options down to two different donors – one of them a 21-year old from Texas—Samantha.

Ron and Samantha met in-person in 2014 at the Chicago Be The Match Walk+Run. Share in the moment which aired on Good Morning America.

A Life-Saving Talley

Posted November 15th, 2016 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News, Patient Stories
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37 seasons. 256 wins. One national championship. More than 70,000 potential lives saved. These are just a few accomplishments of Andy Talley, former head football coach of the Villanova Wildcats. Talley retired from coaching following the 2016 season, but his commitment to saving the lives of those suffering from blood cancer continues long after he walked off the field for the last time.

Answering the Call

In 1992, Talley was listening to the radio when he heard a fact that would change his life: Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, like leukemia or lymphoma. For tens of thousands of these patients a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant could be their cure – yet only half receive the potentially life-saving transplant they need.

“When I heard the devastating odds of those in need of a transplant, I immediately knew that I had to do something,” Talley said. “With 90 young healthy football players on my team and the power of collegiate football behind me, I knew I could recruit donors and hopefully make an impact.”

Coach Talley at presenting Be The Match with a $125,000 check

Coach Talley presenting Be The Match with a $125,000 check

Recognizing that his young and healthy football players had the potential to become marrow donors, and use their clout on campus to recruit others to join, Talley set out to educate his players and the community about the opportunity to save the life of a stranger by joining the Be The Match Registry®.

A Team of Ideal Donors

Talley had an important audience on his team. 18-24 year old males are the ideal bone marrow donors. In general, the younger a person is, the healthier their marrow and because men tend to have more body mass than women, they have more marrow to give.

Additionally, since patients in need of a transplant are more likely to match someone who shares their ethnic ancestry, the diversity of his team played an important role, too. Currently, African American patients have the lowest odds of finding a match compared to all other populations and make up only 6 percent of the registry, a fact that stunned Talley.

Beyond recruiting his players to join the registry, Talley began hosting donor registry drives on the Villanova campus and raising funds to cover the costs of tissue typing. At every drive, Talley emphasized how easy it is to join the registry and potentially save a life—all it takes is a swab of cheek cells; no blood is drawn. In 2008, Be The Match® approached Talley with the idea of working together to expand his on-campus drive efforts and the “Get in the Game. Save a Life” (GITG) initiative was born.

Spreading the Word

Since then, more than 75 other college football programs have enlisted to participate in GITG, which has led to nearly 71,000 new registry members, more than 300 of whom have matched with and donated to a patient in need.  One of these donors is Chicago Cub and former Villanova football and baseball star, Matt Szczur, whose donation story was recently featured by ESPN.

“Coach Talley gave me the opportunity to save someone’s life,” Szczur said. “What’s more motivating than that?”

In addition to his involvement with the GITG initiative, Talley also runs The Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation which has donated more than $375,000 to assist with covering the costs of adding new members to the registry.

The Commitment Continues

It’s important to Coach Talley that his mission of getting more committed donors on the registry doesn’t retire when he does. His successor, Assistant Coach Mike Ferrante, sits on The Board of Directors of The Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation, and he will continue to share the message that anyone can save a life. And Talley plans to deepen his involvement supporting this worthy cause after his final season with the Wildcats.

“With a lot more time on my hands, I am looking forward to increasing awareness and recruiting a ton of coaches to join our Get in the Game initiative,” said Talley. “It is my dream to have every college football team nationwide host a drive and join our passion of saving lives.”

To join the registry visit Join.BeTheMatch.org/GetInTheGame2017

Why I do what I do for Be The Match

Posted September 27th, 2016 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News
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As told by Jeff, donor and advocate

“Save this girl’s life and I’ll be an advocate to the cause for the rest of mine.” This was the short prayer whispered just before I was anesthetized to harvest my bone marrow that was perfectly matched to a sixteen-year-old girl fighting leukemia. Eight years later, I’m please to share that my recipient, Kim is living life to the fullest with my adopted immune system. 100% engrafted and cancer-free!

Within a few days of the procedure life returned to normal, but my appreciation for it was different. Somewhere out there was a young lady fighting for her life and I knew that her family was asking themselves the same questions that I was. Were my cells good enough? What would happen if they weren’t? At the very least I knew that the procedure would give this family something that they had longed for, which has been confirmed by countless other families fighting a blood cancer. For many a bone marrow transplant can be a cure, but for all it provides hope.

To me, a bone marrow transplant is the perfect fusion of fate, science and miracle. Fate, to know that a compatible stranger chose to join a bone marrow registry; science, to facilitate the process; and miracle, to know that these life generating transplanted cells can alter the course of another person’s mortality. Believing this – I had to get involved further.

I started my advocacy at marrow drives, lending a hand to dismiss the fears about the donation process. As we all benefit from talking to others with firsthand experience; attending these drives helped educate and answer questions of those interested but concerned about the procedure. Several people join the registry, as I did, for someone they know who is in need of a transplant. At these drives, I help folks see the “Pay It Forward” concept. Although you may not be a match for the person you know, you could be for someone else in need, just as another person joining at another drive somewhere out there may be a match for your acquaintance.

I am involved with the CIBMTR (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research) which is the research program of Be The Match. As a consumer advocate, I’ve participated over the last five years helping to translate information, such as outcomes from a clinical trial into a readable format for the typical lay person to understand. It was an honor to be asked this past year to co-chair this advocacy group.

I’m also very proud of the money raised by co-chairing a local Be The Match Walk+Run event for the past three years. These events bring together survivors, caregivers, patients and donors to celebrate victories, honor those lost and help recruit new potential donors to the registry.

Finally, I take the most pride in my volunteering efforts as a stem cell courier. The transplant process is a logistical orchestra of physicians, scientists, lab techs, collection center personnel and transplant hospital staff all coming together for a patient in need. It is a privilege to hand-carry these coolers containing someone’s “second chance” from their altruistic donor to their intended recipient. A trained volunteer courier is as close as it gets to being Santa Claus.

If you read this chances are you’re already somehow involved with the cause. Mine are but a few of the many ways to help and I encourage all to engage. Maybe it’s writing to congressional members in support of NMDP/Be The Match’s legislative activities; or it’s reaching out to a local recruiter and helping in your community. Whether you’re a caregiver, a long term survivor or a fellow donor – we all have unique experiences that are vital to the next patient in need. As for me, I’ll keep holding up my end of that prayer.

Dale’s Letter to His Daughter’s Marrow Match

Posted September 20th, 2016 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Dale's daughter, Eva, in the hospital two weeks after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Dale’s daughter, Eva, in the hospital two weeks after she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

August 26, 2014 is a day that will forever be branded in our minds. That’s the day our doctor told us “Your daughter, Eva, has leukemia”.  When you hear the word “leukemia” and you aren’t prepared, the word scares the hell out of you. You’ve heard it before but really what is leukemia?

 We were terrified. Genetic testing showed that Eva had a high-risk form of leukemia with a higher chance of the disease coming back after treatment and lowered chance of long term survival.

We began hearing new words like “bone marrow transplant” and “donor” and found out that Eva’s life would be in the hands of a complete stranger.

Chemo could kill the cancer and doctors could give our daughter a fighting chance, but without a bone marrow transplant, there was no chance for long-term survival. We immediately began the search for an unrelated donor on the Be The Match Registry®. Doctors said it could be months before a match might be found, and that there was a chance we’d never find one.

Soon we hit 90 days since Eva’s diagnosis, 80 days in the hospital in isolation, and two rounds of intense chemo and recovery.

Then the most wonderful thing happened. Our nurse gave us the news that Eva had a match. Someone was willing to give Eva a second chance at life. It was an amazing feeling to think that in all of the world someone had said, “I don’t know you, but I am willing to give to you what I have.”

Our hematology/oncology and bone marrow transplant teams worked together set a transplant date, and confirmed with “our donor” that the date worked with them and they were ready to move forward.

Leukemia can be a rollercoaster ride. Plans can change quickly. Eva developed an infection following chemo. We received heartbreaking news that Eva was not healthy enough for her transplant. She would need another round of chemo.

As scary as this was, we wondered about the donor. Would they want to continue with us after this change in plans? We were happy to learn that our donor was flexible with Eva’s needs and a new transplant date was set.

Eva contracted another infection following the next round of chemo and needed surgery. This pushed out the transplant date…again. We were worried. Our donor had to be struggling and anxious with all of these changes. We couldn’t imagine what they were experiencing. They didn’t know Eva or our family. We were strangers.

A new transplant date was set yet again. We were all looking forward to it. It became a day of hope.

After the last round of chemo, we checked into the Ronald McDonald House so we could be close to the clinic for more tests. Everything seemed to be going well until Eva suddenly developed a fever. Such a simple word can carry so much fear when battling leukemia. A fever literally scares you to death because her immune system wasn’t strong enough to fight off infections.

Then we got the news we never wanted to hear. After many tests, our team called me and my wife into a small room. They said, “We have done all we can for your daughter. It’s time to take her home and spend her final days with family”.

I cried during the drive home, but somewhere along the way I had a thought that cut me to the core: What and how would they tell “our donor”?  This is someone who said, “I will do what I can to help.” After all the tests and the many date changes, it’s now all over. This person doesn’t know us and as far as they knew, they were going to help save a life. How would they tell this person and how would they take the news? My heart went out to our donor.

We said good bye to our baby three days after her 17th birthday. To say it was hard to get back to what was now our life does not come close to describing it.

It wasn’t long after we started thinking about “our donor” again. This person had been so much a part of our lives for months and even today holds a special place in our hearts.

We want to take this time to thank all of the special people out there who come forward and offer to give life to others. Many complete the process and are able to enjoy contact with the patient and their families. Others are never matched. Others, like our donor, are selected and for some reason the process stops before the transplant.

You are all heroes in our heart and the hearts of other families. I hope this note is read by “our donor” and they know how much you mean to us. Thank you for saying yes over and over again. You will always be in our hearts, minds and prayers.

Thank you cannot express our deep appreciation but what more can we say, thank you.

Methods of Donation

Posted April 8th, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Donation-Fast-Facts-390x25px_C (2)

 

If you’re lucky enough to be Donor holds peripheral blood stem cells after donation procedure.chosen as the best matched donor for a patient in need, you will be asked to donate in one of two ways: Peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or marrow donation. A transplant physician chooses the method that is best for the patient.

PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure and the most common way to donate. For five days leading up to donation, you will be given injections of a drug called filgrastim to increase the number of cells in your bloodstream that are used for transplant. Some of your blood is then removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The remaining blood is returned to you through the other arm.

Bone marrow donation is a surgical, usually outpatient procedure. You will receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the donation. Doctors use a needle to withdraw liquid marrow from the back of your pelvic bone.

Want more donation information? Read about the basics of transplant.

Erin’s wish at 15 becomes a reality

Posted March 2nd, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Inspired to join the registry by baseball great Rod Carew’s daughter

Back in the spring of 1996, I remember being emotionally affected by the news coverage of baseball player Rod Carew’s daughter who was dying of leukemia. The media was desperately making pleas for people to join the marrow registry in hopes of finding a donor not only for his daughter, but also for other patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.

That year, all I wanted for my 15th birthday was to join the marrow registry, but I found out that I could not join the registry until I was 18. I was disappointed, but shortly after my 18th birthday, I joined the registry and the wish I made on my 15th birthday was finally fulfilled.

erin2Contacted eight years later

In April 2008, eight years after joining the registry, I was contacted by Be The Match on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was in need of a marrow transplant. I learned that I was identified as a potential match based on the initial screening tests and subsequently went through additional testing, for which I gave some blood samples. I was also told that other potential donors were contacted for additional testing as well, so I simply waited.

Called as a match

At the end of May, I was contacted by Be The Match. The donor center representative left a message on my cell phone that said,“Erin, the doctors have decided that you are a perfect match for this patient.”

The first step to becoming a donor was to attend an information and counseling session. The donor center representative made sure that I still wanted to proceed with the transplant and that I was mentally stable enough to undergo the process.

The second step for me was to meet with a physician for a physical exam to ensure that I was healthy enough to undergo surgery. I passed my physical exam and the transplant date was set for July 10.

Donation postponed, feelings of guilt

Everything seemed to be on schedule until June 27. I was saddened to learn that the patient’s condition deteriorated and he was now battling a type of leukemia that he did not have before. He would have to undergo additional chemotherapy and radiation treatment before receiving the transplant. I was told that the transplant would be postponed for approximately two months.

Initially, when I heard that the patient’s disease had progressed to leukemia, I was ridden with an unnerving sense of guilt. Somehow, I felt that I had failed this child and that if we could have just done the transplant sooner, this would not have happened. During my first counseling session, I was told by the donor center representative not to become emotionally attached to the patient or situation, that I did not give this child the disease and that I was doing everything I possibly could for him. That is easy to say, but much harder to make yourself believe, especially when there is a 14-year-old child involved.

The more I began to pray about this situation and acknowledge God’s perfect timing for everything, the more the guilt was released from my spirit. I came to accept the fact that I had done all that I could do and that the most important thing I did was answer the initial request for donation and gather the strength and courage to proceed.

Donation rescheduled

At the end of October, I got the call I had been waiting for saying that the recipient and his family were ready to proceed with the transplant again. The new donation date was set for November 24th (and 25th). The doctors no longer wanted me to go through the surgical marrow donation, but the peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation instead, which, unfortunately, required more of a time commitment on my part and had a more intense preparation. The recipient’s physicians thought that due to the change in his condition in July, he would be less likely to reject the PBSC than the marrow.

Not that I was looking forward to the surgical procedure initially, but that definitely seemed like an easier procedure than the PBSC collection, especially since I would have been sedated! Truthfully, I was a little concerned about the time that would be required for the PBSC donation and whether I would be able to stay still on both days with needles in my arms for four to six hours. I had said, however, that I would do whatever was in the best interest of the recipient and I intended to live by those words.

Injections to prepare for donation

The donation and transplant took place during the week of Thanksgiving, as planned. Five days before the transplant, I began a series of daily injections of a stem cell stimulant that would promote blood stem cell maturation and the movement of those cells into my bloodstream. A home health nurse came to my condo every morning to give me two shots of this medication. That stuff burned! I have always been able to tolerate needles/injections pretty well, but even I almost jumped out of my chair after the first injection! Thankfully, over time, the injections became less painful.

Donation day one

On the morning of the first day of the donation, I woke up, got down on my knees, and prayed. I asked God to give me the strength to go through with this procedure, not knowing exactly what was going to happen. My dad accompanied me to the hospital and when we arrived, we were greeted by Ms. Karen, the nurse who took care of me, and Ms. Eileen, my donor center representative. After the procedure was fully explained to us and I was comfortable in the bed, I was given the last set of injections.

Immediately after receiving those shots, an IV and return line was placed in my right arm. My left arm was the “draw” arm from which the blood would be extracted. When Ms. Karen was inserting the draw line, she “blew my vein,” meaning that she went all of the way through the vein. That vein could no longer be used and she had to stick me again to find another vein. Needless to say, I was not happy with Ms. Karen, but I felt bad because she was so apologetic and really nice. After a few more minutes, I was completely hooked up to the apheresis machine and the donation process began.

Throughout the procedure, 12 liters of blood circulated through the machine. The machine spun my blood in a centrifuge, separated the stem cells from the blood, and then returned the rest of the blood back to me. The stem cells accumulated very, very slowly in the collection bag. Due to various factors, it took five and half hours for the collection process to be completed on the first day. The most difficult part about the procedure after being hooked up to the machine was being still for several hours. I was not in any pain, but I really wanted to move my arms and I could not do so.

It was also quite humbling, yet incredibly comical having my dad help me eat and drink. He can turn any situation into a funny one, and this was no exception! After the donation process ended for the day, I was unhooked from the machine and finally able to move my arms. In terms of how I felt, I was just really, really tired and experienced a fairly intense tingling/numbing sensation that was caused by the anticoagulant I was given.

Donation day two

The second day of the donation procedure was the same as the first. Although I knew what to expect, the needle sticks were more painful. I think that my veins were just tired from the previous day. Approximately three hours into the procedure on the second day, the access pressure in my left vein dropped below what was considered acceptable for donation and Ms. Karen pressed down on the needle in my arm trying to restore the pressure, and that was PAINFUL. Even though she was trying her best to avoid having to remove that needle and stick me again, it hurt. I did not want another needle stick either, so I was praying that my vein would cooperate and hold up for the last two hours. Thankfully, after several attempts to reposition the needle, the pressure increased and I was able to avoid another needle stick.

I was not as tired and did not experience the same level of numbness/tingling at the end of the second day, which was great.

Liquid gold

The total amount of cells that were collected was about half a liter. It is amazing that it took so long to collect 250 milliliters per day. I remember looking at the cells in the collection bag after day one and Ms. Karen said to me, “That is liquid gold.” Yes, the cells were straw in color and did have almost a golden-like appearance, but that phrase was referring to much more than the color of the cells. For the recipient and his family, those cells were truly worth more than gold. Those cells literally meant life or death.

The answer to somebody’s prayer

On the Sunday before the transplant, my pastor made a statement that stuck with me. He said, “Lord, help me to be the answer to somebody’s prayer.” I thought about this statement for a while. Maybe I was the answer to this boy and his family’s prayer. If so, what an incredible charge that I was granted.

Editor’s note: More than a year after the transplant, Erin and her recipient both signed consent forms agreeing to share their contact information. She has since spoken with her recipient by phone and learned that he was doing well, returning to school and regaining health.

Learning to Love a Stranger

Posted February 2nd, 2015 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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BTM_AABMAM_300x186_AltonetSixteen years after joining the Be The Match Registry® as a freshman in college, Altonet, now 35, learned that she was a matching bone marrow donor for a 52-year-old woman with leukemia. Though she hadn’t thought about her role as a registry member for years, she knew she wanted to donate.“I felt it was a privilege and an honor to be able to give something that my body makes every day and be able to save a life,” Altonet said.

There are two methods of donation: Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC) and Marrow. PBSC donation is a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or outpatient hospital unit. Marrow donation is a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital. Because Altonet donated marrow, she was given anesthesia and did not feel any pain throughout the procedure.

While she was sore for several days following the donation, she was able to go back to work within two days. Several months after her donation, Altonet learned that the recipient was doing well and was released from the hospital just months following the transplant.

Of her recipient, Altonet said, “the one thing she taught me was how to love a stranger. I don’t know her, but I love that she is able to endure through such a difficult time. I prayed for her more than I prayed for myself or anyone else in a long time.”

Lending Her Voice

Altonet has a compassionate heart and a passion for singing. In fact, she’s competed on three national talent shows — Star Search, American Idol and Showtime at the Apollo.

Now she is lending her voice to help others by encouraging more people — especially those from the African American community — to follow her lead by joining the Be The Match Registry and saying yes if called as a match for a patient.

Before going through the donation process, Altonet heard a lot of common myths about donation —that it is painful and dangerous. “I want people to know that each individual’s experience is uniquely theirs. Don’t listen to what you may have heard — speak with people who are able to give you correct information about the process. It’s a rewarding experience and if you are ever selected to donate bone marrow, you should definitely consider it.”

Like Altonet, you could be the cure for someone with a disease like sickle cell anemia or a blood cancer like leukemia by donating bone marrow. It only takes a few minutes to join the Be The Match Registry. If you match a patient, you could be the only one out of millions who can save that patient’s life. Learn more about donation.

It’s on you! Take action now.

Posted June 2nd, 2014 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, News, Patient Stories
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A match is out there

Josh, searching patient Josh was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at birth, a painful and life-threatening blood disease that most commonly affects African Americans. His first crisis from the disease occurred when he was only 6 months old. Although his spleen was removed to prevent another crisis, Josh suffered a stroke at 18 months old, paralyzing his right side of his body.

Now, at 7 years old, Josh’s best chance for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. Like 70 percent of patients, Josh does not have a matching donor in his family. His family, friends and even ABC’s Good Morning America have helped him in his search—hoping to find a match for Josh and others in need of a life-saving transplant. But out of the 11 million potential bone marrow donors listed on the national Be The Match Registry®, not one is a match for Josh.

Josh’s search for a match is more challenging, because of his African American heritage. Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry, and African American patients have the lowest odds of finding a match compared to all other populations. More African American donors are urgently needed to save more lives.

Vera, Josh’s mom, knows there is hope. “We know there is a match out there,” said Vera. “We just need people to step up and join the registry. Unless you actually go out and get tested, you may never know if you could be the one to save someone’s life.”

Donating is simple

Kendall, marrow donorKendall, 20, knows first-hand the impact that bone marrow donation can have on a patient. Her mother donated bone marrow twice to her uncle to help him fight leukemia. While Kendall’s uncle did not survive, she was struck by the hope bone marrow donation gave her family. When she was old enough, Kendall joined the Be The Match Registry as a potential bone marrow donor in memory of her uncle.

Several months after joining the registry, she learned that she was a match for a young African American girl with sickle cell anemia. In late 2013, Kendall donated peripheral blood stem cells through a non-surgical, outpatient procedure. She was back to work within two days of her donation.

“I think that bone marrow donation sounds like it might be a hard process to go through, but it was actually really simple,” says Kendall.

Kendall has yet to meet her recipient, but already says she would donate again in a heartbeat. “I know she’s young, probably a strong girl, and if she ever needs anything from me in the future, I’ll definitely always be willing to help.”

It’s on you

You could be the cure for someone with a disease like sickle cell anemia or a blood cancer like leukemia by donating bone marrow.

Help save more lives. Get the real facts about bone marrow donation at http://bethematch.org/Transplant-Basics/How-marrow-donation-works/. Take action today.