Become A Bone Marrow Donor And Save a Life
It is estimated that 6,000 people in the United States need a bone marrow transplant. 11 million Americans who have volunteered to be marrow donors. More are needed, especially in racial and ethnic minorities. This is because transplant tissue type is linked with your racial and ethnic background. Many more African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics are needed to join the National Registry.
Bone marrow transplants can help treat cancers such as leukemia and blood disorders such as sickle cell disease. The bone marrow is where all kinds of blood cells are made, including red blood cells, white blood cells (which fight infection), and platelets.
To become a donor, you will need to join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). This allows doctors from around the world to search the registry to find donors that match their patients. To join the NMDP registry
* You need to be between the ages of 18 and 60 years.
* You need to meet the health criteria. Persons with conditions such as HIV, insulin-dependent diabetes, hepatitis and autoimmune diseases are generally excluded.
* While there is no minimum weight requirement, there is a maximum. The maximum acceptable weight would be a person's weight associated with a body mass index (BMI) of 40.
* If you are part of a registration drive, then often the sponsor of the drive will cover the costs. If no, then you may be asked to pay for the tissue typing (approx $52).
Joining the registry involves completing a donation kit (available at marrow.org). Cotton swabs are swiped on the inside of the cheeks to determine the tissue type. The sample is then sent along with an in-depth health history questionnaire to the National Bone Marrow Program. Read: Biomedical Researchers Create Artificial Human Bone Marrow.
Once you are "matched" to someone who needs your marrow, there are two way that a donation can be done.
* A doctor can insert a needle into the back of the hip bone to retrieve the marrow
* A procedure called peripheral blood stem cell donation, or PBSC can be done to collect the cells. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm.
MayoClinic.com: Bone marrow donation
National Marrow Donor Program