Monday, May 25, 2009

Be the match: Join the Marrow Registry for free June 8-22.

Earlier today when I wanted to forward my post on cord blood donation, I realized that most of the links had gone dead. While updating them, I was pleased to learn about the upcoming Marrowthon from the National Marrow Donor Program. NMDP has set a goal of adding 46,000 new members to the marrow registry during this drive. Each new member increases the odds that someone with a life threatening blood disease will live, and live well – disease free.

Joining is easy: just take the eligibility quiz, fill out a form, and swab your cheeks for a cell sample. (I had to give a bit of blood for testing when I joined years ago– so now it’s even easier.) That’s it, you’re on the registry. Just keep your address updated so that if you ever match someone in need, NMDP will know how to contact you. If that happens and you choose to donate, your choice may well save someone’s life. Remember, it is a choice - there’s no obligation to donate even if you match.

Usually, it costs $52 to join. The fee covers the testing and maintenance of the registry and is tax deductible. But joining is free from June 8-22 during the Marrowthon!

Joining the marrow registry is just one way to help. Here are some other ways to get involved:

* Make a tax-deductible donation to the NMDP. It actually costs ~$100 to place one person on the registry so your donations help defray expenses.

* Spread the word. Encourage others to join, especially during the Marrowthon when it's free!

* If you’re pregnant, donate your baby’s cord blood. It’s free, painless, doesn’t alter the birth process, and can save someone’s life.

So think about the options you would want for yourself, your child, your spouse, or a loved one upon a blood disease diagnosis. Now consider joining the Be the Match Marrow Registry. You may be the one to save a life.

“Sickle cell is now a part of my past. One year after my transplant, I was pronounced cured. Stem cells saved my life. Thank you.” - Keone Penn, 2003, the first person cured of sickle cell anemia by umbilical cord blood donation from an unrelated donor, in a US Senate hearing.

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