Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bone Marrow Drive - I need a little of you!

As you know, my colleague's husband Anthony has been diagnosed with Leukemia (a form of blood cancer) and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant is simply the introduction of healthy blood cells into patients with certain blood diseases.  

Because blood is a tissue, and tissue-type is inherited, in many cases siblings of people needing a transplant can be donors.  They found out last week that Anthony's siblings are not suitable matches, so he now needs to find a donor through the National and International Bone Marrow Donor registries. The first search was not successful.

I am arranging for volunteer donors to be able to register and provide a small sample of blood for testing at my company on October 16th. If you are interested in donating, I would love to have you. Please e-mail me at, let me know if you could come by, and what time would be best for you (very important). The organization we are working with is great and we can have it during lunch, late in the day - whenever we can get the most people to come by. Once I have a sense of what time works best, I will send out a separate e-mail to all that have RSVP'd with times and directions.

Also, if you know of anyone that would be interested/willing to donate, please forward this info along to them.

I know that the prospect of donating bone marrow can be a scary thing, and so below please find the basic information on bone marrow registration, testing, donation and transplants. The first phase of donating is only a teaspoon of blood and a little paperwork.

By giving just a little time and yourself (literally), you have the potential to save someone's life. What could be more miraculous than that?

Bone Marrow Transplants 101

What does registering to become a bone marrow donor mean?

• When someone registers to be a bone marrow donor, they fill out the registration and consent forms and have a teaspoon of blood drawn, to be tested for tissue types.
• Then, their names are put on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) registries with their tissue types to be searched by doctors with patients in need of a transplant.  ALL INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL!

What are the chances of finding a match? Becoming a donor?

• Approximately 80% of all patients find at least one match; however, not all of the 80% will go on to the transplant stage.
• DKMS experienced about a 5% chance of a registered person becoming a donor in the next ten years.

What are the eligibility requirements for volunteer donors?

• Between 18 and 55 years old (approximately 1951-1988)
• Weigh more than 110 lbs
• Not HIV positive
• Not at risk for AIDS
• Not have had an organ or tissue transplant
• Not have severe heart disease
• Not have most forms of cancer (skin and cervical are acceptable)
• Not have asthma requiring daily medication
• Not have diabetes requiring insulin
• Not have hepatitis
• Not have epilepsy
• Not have autoimmune disorders (ex. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis)
• Not have chronic or severe back problems or surgery

How are blood-forming cells collected?

• Through bone marrow: ~20% procedures: Marrow donation is a surgical procedure using anesthesia, performed in a hospital. Doctors use special needles to withdraw marrow from the donor’s pelvic bones. The marrow is completely replaced within a few weeks.
• Through Blood Stream: ~80% procedures: PBSC donation requires daily injections for 5 days before the collection.  During the collection, donor’s blood is removed, passed through a machine that extracts cells used in transplantation, and the remaining blood is returned through the other arm.  Stem cells are replaced within a couple of weeks and no hospital stay is required

What are potential side effects?

• Marrow donors can expect to feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days or longer.  Some donors have reported feeling tired, and difficulty walking, but most donors are back to their normal routine in a few days.
• PBSC donors report varying symptoms including headaches, bone or muscle pain, nausea, insomnia, fatigue or flu-like symptoms while receiving injections.  These effects disappear shortly after the collection process.

How does a person’s race or ethnicity affect matching?

• Tissue type is inherited and therefore patients are more likely to match someone of their same race and ethnicity.  Currently, there is a special need to recruit more donors who identify themselves as: Black or African American, American Indian or Native Alaskan, Asian, Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino.

People who are registered can withdraw from the program at any time.

No comments: