Thursday, July 9, 2009
I've asked you to bleed. I've asked you to bake.
Now, I'm asking you to swab a few cells off the inside of your cheek.
I know, I know. I ask a lot, don't I?
And no, I'm not suggesting you put yourselves on some sort of are-you-my-father-DNA-testing episode of Maury. I wouldn't do that to you.
I'm talking about the Be The Match Registry (formerly known as the National Marrow Donor Program). I'm talking about putting yourself on the registry, in order to potentially donate your bone marrow someday. I'm talking about possibly saving someone's life.
I'm actually a bit late with this request. Back in June, Be The Match ran a Marrowthon to try to drum up 46,000 new people on the registry. During that time, all fees to join the registry were waived.
But, GOOD NEWS!
It looks like the fees are still being waived. This means you can join the marrow registry for FREE. It doesn't cost you a penny. Sign up on the website, and the kit will be mailed to you. It's super simple: You take a few swabs of the inside of your cheek, pack it up, and mail it back (you don't even have to pay postage). And then you're done.
At least for now.
You see, it's possible that there is someone out there, right now, that needs a bone marrow transplant. Maybe they've been waiting for it for a while. Because maybe they don't have a match. And it's possible that one of you, my dear friends, holds the key to their treatment.
It's possible that you'll register, and soon after, be called. Or maybe 10 years down the road. Or maybe never. But at least you'd know that you put yourself out there, just in case.
Just in case someone needed it. Just because you could.
Personally, I have been on the registry for (I think) more than 3 years now. I, too, signed up at a time when they were running a campaign during which the fees were waived (I believe it was a Mother's Day promotion). Normally, I believe they charge something like $50-60 to register, which is a huge shame, since that deters so many people. The problem is that in order to process someone and put them on the registry, it costs Be The Match $100 to do so. As you can imagine, that adds up quickly. Fortunately, people make monetary donations to Be The Match to offset some of those costs for you and me.
I sometimes wonder what I will do if I get called. Sometimes I fear that I'll be too afraid to actually go through with it. But then I think about how if the recipient was me, or my family member, or my friend... I would want someone to do it for me.
And so I have to believe that I would do it for them.
Remember Jenny? I've pointed you to her blog before, because her daughter was the reason I started donating blood. After her baby girl was diagnosed with leukemia, she, her husband, and other family members got tested as potential marrow donors for their own daughter. They weren't matches, but as a result, they were put on the registry. (Their daughter ended up receiving a cord blood transplant from a non-related donor, and for some reason, I want to say it may have come all the way from Italy!)
Anyway, almost two years after Allie passed away, Jenny's husband, Andrew, received a call that he was a bone marrow match for a young boy. Of course, given what they went through themselves, Andrew went through the harvesting surgery and donated. Isn't that just so amazing? You can read Jenny's blog posts about it here (scroll down and read post from July 13, and she mentions it a few times in prior posts, too).
That is just one of many, many stories. You can read others at the Be The Match blog. If you have any other questions about the Registry, the website is very informative.
If you're thinking about doing this, I hope you do it soon! I'm not sure how much longer they'll be waiving the fee.
And if you join, thank you.