With a swab of your cheek, you can be added to bone marrow registry

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PORTLAND, ME FEBRUARY 9: Dorice Groshon, left, and Allison Keith swab their cheeks during a bone marrow drive for Saco resident Hayley Desjardins at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Mon. February 9, 2015. The swabs will be analyzed to add their bone marrow types to a national registry. (Photo by Amelia Kunhardt/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You don’t even know it, but it’s possible you have the ability to save someone’s life right now.


With your bone marrow.

At donor registry drives, people ages 18 to 44 are recruited to join the registry. Medical research shows younger donors are best for patients and provide the greatest chance for transplant success.

If you’ve ever considered adding your name to the registry to see if you are someone’s match, your chance has come.

KU is partnering with The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to offer a bone marrow registry drive on Wednesday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the KU Cancer Center, 2330 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Westwood, Kan.

They will take a quick swab of your cheek cells.  Then, they will tissue-type the sample you provide and use the results to match you to patients. Many people think bone marrow donation automatically means surgery, but that isn’t always the case. For more myths and facts, click here.


  • Why is there a need for people to join a bone marrow registry?

Every year, more than 12,000 patients in the U.S. are diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, and their best or only hope of a cure is a transplant from an unrelated adult donor or umbilical cord blood unit.

  • What are the guidelines for joining? (age, weight)

Guidelines for joining the Be The Match Registry are; be between 18 -44 years of age at a drive, ages 45 – 60 will go online at www.bethematch.org  and the maximum weight for joining the Be The Match Registry ® have been established to help ensure donor safety.  Please visit www.bethematch.org/join to see weight guidelines.

  • How is the sample collected?

The sample is collected with a self-administered cheek swab.

  • If I am between the ages of 18 and 44 why am I more likely to be called to donate?

Currently, this age group is most urgently needed since they are requested by transplant doctors more than 90 percent of the time, and research shows that these donors provide the greatest chance for transplant success

  • Can I still join if I’m over age 44?

Yes, people between the ages of 45 and 60 who want to join the registry are welcome to do so online with a $100 tax-deductible payment.

  • How do I become a bone marrow donor?

To become a potential donor on Be The Match Registry:

Be between 18 -44 years of age at a drive, ages 45 – 60 will go online at www.bethematch.org

Be willing to donate to any patient in need.  Meet the health guidelines.

If eligible, complete a consent form and give a cheek swab.

  • What is my commitment if I join?

If you match a patient, you have the right to change your mind. However, a late decision to not donate can be life-threatening to a patient. Please think seriously about your commitment before joining the registry. Once you join the registry, the most important thing you can do is stay committed.

  • How likely is it that I will donate to someone?

On average, 1 in every 500 members of the Be The Match Registry® in the U.S. will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) to a patient.

(Please note this is slightly different from the odds of being called, as more donors are called as potential matches, but not all go on to actually donate.)

  • What is the donation process like?

There are two ways to donate. Most donations do not involve surgery. About 75 percent of the time, the patient’s doctor requests a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which is a non-surgical, outpatient procedure. If the patient’s doctor requests marrow (about 25 percent of the time), the donation process is a surgical procedure performed in a hospital. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure. The doctor decides which method is best for a patient.




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