In Need of Bone Marrow Donors

Mayo Clinic

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ROCHESTER, MN — Over 12,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like leukemia or lymphoma in the U.S. each year.

Be The Match is a worldwide bone marrow donor registry that has 10.5 million potential donors to help those people in need, but it is not enough.

One reason people like Stephanie Yost are not on a bone marrow donor registry is simply because of the unknown.

“It sounds complicated and invasive because the blood is inside the bone from what I understand so it sounds a little scary,” Yost said.

Those in charge of doing transplants are asking Yost and others for their help.

“One of the challenges we face in hematology is the number of blood cancers that are being diagnosed in both adults and children. In fact, in children, blood cancers are one of the leading causes of death,” said Dr. William Hogan, Director of Blood and Marrow Transplant for Mayo Clinic.

In fact, statistics show every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with a form of blood cancer and the Mayo Clinic happens to see a lot of them.

“We see this as a daily problem and we have many patients that have blood or bone marrow disorders that require transplant. For instance, at Mayo we have approximately 450 patients a year that undergo transplants, so more than one a day,” Hogan said.

Of those people in need of a transplant, only one-third have a matching donor in their family. That is why more people are being asked to join the Be The Match Registry. Specifically, they would like to see more people in the 18 to 44-year-old range.

“We know that stem cells from younger adults are more valuable, they tend to be more robust in terms of long-term reconstitution of the bone marrow and they tend to be very effective donors for what we need to do,” Hogan said.

As simple as it is to get on the registry, Yost may need a little more persuading.

“I really don’t like needles so I don’t know, I wasn’t even aware that many people needed donations for that type of thing, I thought it was more rare,” Yost said.

Hogan said they need a large number of people on the registry so that they can come up with the right match. He said it is not like donating blood where the same blood type is common.

For more information on how you can sign up to get on the registry, visit bethematch.org.

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