Bone Marrow Transplant Concerns
I have three wonderful kids. They are smart, funny, athletic, and – thank heavens – healthy. Aside from infrequent viruses, periodic stomach aches and the occasional twisted ankle, they don’t slow down for much.
One of my worst nightmares is one of my children being diagnosed with a condition that requires a bone marrow transplant. My kids are biracial, which means that the chance of finding a match in the existing pool of registered bone marrow donors is miniscule.
According to an article in The Washington Post on Tuesday, June 1, only about 3 percent of donors listed in the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be the Match” registry are of mixed race. Washington Post Article
People who are multiracial are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States. However, despite donor drives and new efforts to utilize social networking to increase the number of donors, they are also the most under-represented in the marrow registry.
As the number of conditions that are potentially treatable with bone marrow transplants grows, so does the demand for donors. The first line is a family member but often, no family member is a match. Next, doctors turn to the national registry and even international registries to find matches for critically ill patients. For single race patients, the chances are slim. For those of mixed race, those chances are virtually non-existent.
I have been registered with the National Marrow Donor Program since 1991. I have been called twice with the news that I was a potential match for a critically ill individual. Both times I unquestioningly proceeded with the next level of screening necessary to determine a true match. Sadly, both times, the potential recipient died before it was possible to schedule a donation. In some ways I felt the loss of their lives deeply. Lives that were lost that maybe, just maybe, a few ounces of my marrow cells could have had a role in saving.
For more information on registering to be a donor, click on http:/www.marrow.org
Guest editor Debora Harvey, Patient Navigator