Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Blood and Marrow Transplant program at Mayo Clinic are playing host to the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match: Marrowthon on Monday, July 9, aiming to register new bone marrow donors.
Anyone from ages 18 to 60 and in good health is encouraged to attend. Participants will fill out short questionnaires and nurses will swab their cheeks to determine tissue type. That information is added to the Be the Match Registry.
When a patient needs a bone marrow transplant and family members do not match, hospitals consult the registry. If the registry locates a match, the potential donor is contacted. More than 5,500 patients received a tissue donation through the registry in 2011.
The chances of finding a match are 93 percent for Caucasians, according to the registry. However, the match rate for African-Americans and other minorities is only 66 percent. Of the nine million people currently registered, only seven percent are African-American.
“Unfortunately, myths about bone marrow donation keep many people from joining the Be The Match Registry and potentially saving a life,” said Tionne Watkins, singer in the popular 1990′s musical group TLC, in a press release. “That is why I am passionate about encouraging everyone to learn the facts about bone marrow donation through these PSAs. We need more African Americans to step up.”
The drive is occurring at two locations:
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
1919 E. Thomas Road
East Building Lobby
7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mayo Clinic hospital
5777 E. Mayo Blvd
Conference Room 1-212
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Joining the registry is a small but empowering pledge of time that can save lives and turn a hopeless situation into a hopeful one,” said Erin Curtis, pediatric bone marrow transplant coordinator at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, in a press release. “Families of the patient really focus on the donor search, because it is often the end of a long and difficult time period and often represents the only real chance at a cure.”
According to the Be the Match Marrow Registry, more than 10,000 people each year need a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant because of a life-threatening disease.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Mayo Clinic in Arizona introduced the Valley’s first pediatric blood and marrow transplant program. Previously, the only pediatric BMT program in the state was at University Medical Center in Tucson. This meant that families in the Valley, already struggling with the burden of having a child with cancer, had to face the additional stress and inconvenience of having a child hospitalized in a distant facility for several months.
For more information about the Marrow Donor Recruitment Campaign, call 480-342-0564 at Mayo Clinic or 602-933-0824 at Phoenix Children’s Hospital or visit phoenixchildrens.com.
Ceci Christenson of Gilbert received a diagnosis of Myelodysplastic Syndrome as a teen, but managed to find a donor in her brother. She now commits herself to raising awareness about bone marrow donation. Listen to our 2011 interview with Christenson here.