One of our circle of friends was diagnosed with leukaemia last December. No one in his family is a match, and so he’s relying solely on the bone marrow registry.
There are several problems with this, the major two being:
1. Most people don’t know that there is a bone marrow donor registry, let alone have put themselves on it. (It’s easy; next time you give blood, tell them to add your name, or go to your local Red Cross/Hema Quebec branch.)
2.) His ethnic background is severely under-represented in the registry, although anyone from any background could be a match; there’s simply a higher likelihood that someone of the same ethnic background might match up.
This post has all the info, but I’ll repost the most pertinent bits here:
FAQs and where to go:
Canada Blood Services (Canada, except Quebec)
National Marrow Donor Program (US)
National Blood Service (UK)
How is a match determined?
You give a swab sample and send it in or get a simple blood test. It takes about 3-4 weeks to determine a match.
Where do I go?
Go to the Hema-Quebec website and download the consent form. Complete it, and mail or fax it back to them as soon as you can.
What do I do if I want my name to be added to the registry but I don’t live in Quebec?
That’s fine, just get added to your country’s bone marrow registry. If a match is not found in the Quebec, the national registry is consulted. Registries around the world work together to form a global database. If you cannot find information for your country after an online or offline search, contact me.
If you are not sure if you think you have consented in the past when giving blood, please confirm and also update your contact information if you have moved. They may need to find you.
What if I am not sure I want to have bone marrow extracted?
You are only consenting to be added to the registry and be notified that you match.
Can I donate to him specifically?
Donations are anonymous. If you match with someone it may or may not be my brother. But you will be able to help them in the same way if you decide to donate.
What happens if I match someone?
You will be contacted by your regional program. You may undergo additional testing for matching verification and to ensure you have no infectious disease of the blood. If you consent to donation, you could be admitted for day surgery in as little as two weeks, if it’s urgent. You may decline donation. If you have accepted, you can also change your mind. However, once you have been informed that the patient is being prepared for surgery (chemotherapy) you could threaten their life further if you decline after this point. You will undergo a surgical procedure to extract marrow from the pelvic bone.
How long will it take?
Bone marrow donation is typically done as day surgery and you may be in the hospital for 1 or 2 days. Expect to allot 3 days for this experience, as you should rest before and after any surgical procedure.
Yes, but does it hurt?!?
There is no excruciating pain associated with bone marrow surgery. Many people will experience discomfort and soreness in the hip or lower back region for a few days. This can be resolved with pain medication.
People, this is something good that you can do for humanity at large. You may never be called upon to donate marrow to save someone’s life… but then again, you might. And that anonymous donation will change someone’s life forever. Please, please add your name. If you can give blood (I can’t, and you have no idea how frustrated this makes me now), you can do this. It’s a random act of kindness that may have a much larger impact than you or I could ever imagine… but that those in need dream of.