You, yes you, could save someone’s life.
About 6 months ago a friend of mine’s husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML. He is the father of a 14 year old son and 12 year old daughter. In order to save him the highest-odds treatment would be a bone-marrow transplant, and in many cases of AML it is the only treatment that can save a patient.
Upon hearing this my immediate reaction was the same as yours would be, which is “how can I help”. While it was unlikely I could save my friend’s husband, perhaps I could save someone else, and so I found the National Marrow Donor Program at www.bethematch.com. In 5 minutes, online, I took the very simple steps that may allow me to save someone’s life someday.
I signed up to “join the registry”, and a week later I received a letter-sized envelope with 4 “Q-Tips” in the package. For 30 seconds you wipe the inside of your cheeks with each Q-Tip, put it in the packaging they send you, and mail it back in a pre-paid envelope. 3 weeks later I received confirmation, I was registered.
I’m now one of 5 million people in the registry. As I understand the process, if I’m a match to save someone, I will receive a letter or a phone call informing me of the patient and their situation. While they do not give names, they will tell me something like “a mother of 3 who lives in the midwest who has AML and needs a transplant within 30 days”. I can decide if I want to proceed, and if so a set of further simple tests to ensure an antigen match will make the final determination whether I, Dan Papes, could save such a woman’s life.
It strikes me though that only 5 million people are in this database. When one thinks of how easy it is to join, and the life saving potential of being a match, why aren’t there 50-100 million people in this database?
Joining is obviously a personal decision, but I know the only reason I wasn’t in the database previously was because I didn’t know about it, or how to find it, or how easy it was to register. For those of you in that same situation, the web site again is www.bethematch.com.