National Marrow Awareness Month
I have learned that this month – November – is National Bone Marrow Awareness Month. It has not been well publicized, but I heard about this from Costco so it must be true. This is actually the second month this year to focus on bone marrow or stem cell transplants as July was African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month.
If you have read previous posts, you already know how important bone marrow or stem cell transplants are to people with certain blood disorders or cancers. Each year there are more than 10,000 patients in the United States alone who could potentially benefit from such a procedure, but it seems that appropriate donors are found for less than a third of those.
It is not easy to find a matching donor. The most likely possibility is a sibling of the person needing the transplant, but there is only about a 35% chance that the sibling will be a match. If there is not a match with a sibling, the odds become much more onerous. I have read that for a Caucasian there is only a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a matching unrelated donor. For other ethnic groups the odds can be 1 in 100,000.
It should be obvious that the more willing donors there are, the more likely it is that an appropriate unrelated donor may be found. If you are between the ages of 18 and 60 and have any interest at all in registering as a potential donor, you may learn how to join the registry at www.marrow.org or at your local blood bank. The previous posts on this blog will give you a good idea of what is involved. Being a donor is not all that difficult, and you could save someone’s life.