Marrow is a
substance found inside the bones. It resembles blood and contains
blood stem cells; which produce red blood cells, white blood cells,
and platelets important for fighting infection, carrying oxygen and
helping to control bleeding.
Blood stem cells, the cells that transplant patients need to
make healthy new marrow, usually live in bone marrow, but are also
released naturally, in small numbers, into the circulating blood.
Every year, thousands of adults and children need bone marrow
transplants — which may be their only chance for survival. Although
some patients with leukemia or other cancers have a genetically
matched family member who can donate, about 70% do not. These
patients' lives depend on finding an unrelated individual with a
compatible tissue type, often within their own ethnic group, who is
willing to donate marrow for them.
As of early
2009, the Be The
has facilitated over 35,000 unrelated bone marrow transplants and
the national Registry has over seven million volunteer donors.
Many patients, especially
people of color, cannot find a compatible donor among those on the
Registry. Patients and donors must have matching tissue types, and
these matches are most often found between people of the same racial
and ethnic background. A large, ethnically diverse group of
prospective donors will give more patients a chance for survival.
Tissue Typing Made Easier!
Those interested in joining the
Be The Match
Registry℠ must have their HLA tissue type determined. Previously, a blood sample
was collected from the potential donor, but now, in order to make
joining even easier, the Central California Blood
Center uses the "buccal
swab" collection method. It
allows the donor to swab the interior of their mouth to collect
enough cells to be HLA tissue typed.
Donors joining the
Be The Match Registry℠ must be between 18-60 years old and in
good health, and must meet the
Donor Eligibility Guidelines. Donors who are not suitable to
join the national Registry can help patients in other ways such as
making a financial contribution to tissue type other donors. See
funding information below.
Steps to Donating Marrow
If you match the tissue type of a patient
seeking a donor, additional testing will confirm the results.
The marrow collection process usually does
not require an overnight stay in the hospital. The procedure
itself is painless, because it is performed under anesthesia.
But, for an average of two weeks following the procedure, most
donors experience sore hips and some must restrict their
activities. Even with some soreness, most donors report that
donating marrow is a very positive experience and that they
would be willing to donate again.
The donated marrow is transfused to the
patient, whose diseased cells have been destroyed by intensive
chemotherapy. In time, the donated marrow engrafts and begins
producing healthy blood cells.
someone volunteers to join the national Registry of potential
donors, a buccal (cheek skin cell) swab sample is taken and is
tissue-typed. This typing costs $52 per donor. The
Center is sometimes able
to reduce this cost depending on available Be
The Match Registry℠ funding and other contributions. For more
information about available funding, please inquire at time of
registration. Once a
donor is found to match a patient, all medical costs of the
collection are covered by the patient or patient's medical
insurance, as are donor expenses and other non-medical costs.
wishing to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Bone Marrow
Donor Program's Donor Typing Fund should contact (559) 389-LIFE
(5433) or email
email@example.com. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Q: How can I go about
scheduling a bone marrow drive?
A: Call the Central California Blood
Center at (559) 389-LIFE
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