BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Roswell Park Cancer Institute held a bone marrow donor drive Tuesday but it’s easy to become registered from home.
After getting a kit (order one here), you swab your cheek and then send the swab in to be analyzed and entered into the national donor program. You might be just the person who can save someone’s life.
Last December, 5-year-old Brett Struble was diagnosed with leukemia. His type of leukemia is extremely difficult to treat, and he needed a marrow transplant.
His mom, Sandra, said, “That was his only option. The chemo was not strong enough to get rid of all the leukemic cells; therefore a bone marrow transplant was required.”
The first place to look for a potential donor was in the family.
“We started with our daughters first because siblings are usually the best match. Then my husband and myself were tested and my husband was relatively close, he was five out of six, but they had to go with an unrelated donor,” Sandra explained.
Dr. Barbara Bambach added, “Many patients that need to have a bone marrow transplant won’t have a match within their family. You only have a 25 percent chance of any brother or sister that you have being a match for you.”
That means most patients look in the national registry. Brett received marrow from a 34-year-old woman, and so far, it’s accomplished what chemo alone couldn’t.
“By doing this, we actually have been able to get him into remission for the first time since he’s been diagnosed,” Dr. Bambach said.
Sandra said, “I’m just ecstatic and so grateful that she took the time and her body and donated it to my child.”
More than 6,000 people need marrow transplants every year.
Dr. Bambach pleaded, “Join. Please join. Please be a source out there because there may be just one person out that you and only you are able to save and cure.”
After you join, you will be called in for further tests to determine if you’re a match before donating. For adults who need transplants, they can usually use stem cells from your blood – as in a blood donation. For children, they usually need bone marrow from the hip.
The procedure is done under anesthesia. Though someone who has donated may hurt for a day afterwards, the donor has saved someone’s life.