Be The Match (Marrow Registry) #illumedati

Hi everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays and I apologize that this post is late. I’ve been kind of running around California trying to meet up with old friends. However, today I want to talk about “Be The Match”.

Be The Match

Stock Photo from: Pexels

What is “Be The Match?”

Well, “Be The Match” is a database run by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). As you may or may not know, the mainstay for a potential curative treatment for certain leukemias and lymphomas is a peripheral blood stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant.

Unfortunately, “matching” patients to donors is the most difficult part of the process. It is not very common for normal, healthy individuals to get the testing necessary to even be registered into the database (unlike blood type). For this reason, this database was created to try to facilitate this process.

In particular, donors between the age of 18-44 are preferred as research has demonstrated a higher rate of successful transplants with this age group.

Quick side story:

So, like I said, I’m in California for my friend’s wedding. I met up with one of my friends from high school who told me that he had recently been contacted about being a match. He had signed up for the database about ten years ago during a local community festival.

He demonstrated some concerns about whether he should do it or not. Now, ultimately the decision is his. However, I wanted to at least try to explain to him just how wonderful of a gift he would be providing to this recipient, and potentially alleviate his fears a little.

I explained the two methods that could be used:

Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) Donation:

This is the non-surgical procedure. It requires regular injections of a drug called filgrastim. Filgrastim is a granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF) which increases the proliferation of stem cells. The blood is then taken from the donor and then processed using apheresis in which the stem cells are separated from the other blood cells.

Bone Marrow Donation:

This is the method that I think people normally associate with bone marrow donation and is a surgical procedure. This is actually less common nowadays. A needle is inserted into the pelvic bone (usually the iliac crest). Some of the liquid marrow is then removed from inside the bone marrow.

The type of donation needed will depend on the type of condition the potential recipient has. In general, PBSC Transplant is now more common since it is less invasive. However, certain pediatric cancers have shown better results with bone marrow transplant.

So what was his concern?

Obviously, his major concern was the Bone Marrow Donation as he had been told by many that it can be painful. I didn’t mince words here. People recover differently. It can be more painful or “achy” to some compared to others. However during the actual procedure, it is usually done under regional or general anesthesia so the procedure itself should be painless.

So what’s the end result?

Well, I think he’s planning to move ahead with things. He said he’d let me know how it goes.

However, this also serves as a reminder to myself that I need to sign up for the registry. I also encourage everyone to sign up for the registry as well, especially those age 18-44.


Be The Match. Maybe Save A Life.

Medicine Mondays Sensei


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