Every three minutes, one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Every 10 minutes, someone dies. Patients are searching for a cure. The exciting part of this struggle is that a cure does exist, and each one of us has the potential to be part of that cure for someone waiting for a match and bone marrow transplant. That’s the message Mission Hospital spread during last week’s Bone Marrow Registry Drive, which added more than 60 new names to the National Bone Marrow Registry.
Dr. Lindsey Gouker, who specializes in pediatric hematology and oncology at Mission Children’s Hospital, said participation for these types of events can vary, but was pleased with the turnout. “I’m so grateful to our employees and community members for getting involved. The steps to become a member of the national registry are quick and easy, but the impact is huge,” said Dr. Gouker. That’s because, for patients seeking a transplant, a larger and more diverse registry means a better chance of finding a match. Getting added to the registry takes about 15 minutes and involves a painless cheek swab.
Each individual patient has a likelihood of about 66-97 percent of finding a matching donor, as well as only a 30 percent chance of finding a matched donor in their family. Matching is dependent on several factors, and race and ethnicity play a big part. Because markers, or specific proteins used to find a match, are inherited, individuals with diverse ancestry are especially encouraged to join, and individuals between ages 18 and 44 are especially needed.
“Having worked with bone marrow transplant patients, I’ve had the opportunity to see their lives changed by this experience,” said Dr. Gouker. “The possibility to save a life lies in each one of us. What an incredible gift we have the potential to give to someone who needs us.”
Missed the event at Mission Hospital? You can still join the registry. Visit join.bethematch.org/mission and enter promo code “mission” to complete an online questionnaire and request a kit by mail.