National Marrow Donor Program

I joined the “Be the Match” registry. So did Kevin. Its the national database for bone marrow and PBSC (peripheral blood stem cells) donation.

Currently, there are people suffering from a whole slew of life-threatening maladies that can, given the current state of medical technology, only be mitigated or cured by replacing defective marrow/cells with healthy marrow/cells from a donor. (That is my over-simplified layperson’s summary:) Until modern medicine can figure out how to do this with a persons own cells, or through gene therapy, or some other mechanism, sick people have to rely on finding a willing donor that is a biological match, which can be a tall order.

I was made aware of and became motivated to join the registry after some friends of ours had a child diagnosed with Hurler Syndrome. If I understand correctly, the genetic disorder is a death sentence without a bone marrow transplant, but getting the transplant offers a fairly good chance of a pretty normal life. Thankfully, they were able to find several matches. Most people who join the registry won’t ever be called to donate. If selected, donating will require some time and discomfort (especially for marrow), but that seems like a small price to pay to make such an enormous difference in someone’s life.

Joining took maybe 15 minutes of my time, total (filling out an online form, receiving the cheek swab kit in the mail, and then sending the kit back out). That’s probably all the time I’ll ever put into this. While I will be excited to help someone if if I’m a match, I’m really rooting for the scientists who will eventually make swapping bodily fluids as medical treatment obsolete.

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