It’s so cool when the bone marrow donors and recipients get to meet. Think about it, if you donate almost any other body part, it’s because you’re dead. This isn’t. You can meet the person and they literally have your blood (DNA) running through their veins.”
– Nadine at East&
If that doesn’t convince you to join the Bone Marrow Registry, I don’t know what will. But let me backtrack a little. Let me tell you why I am doing this.
Five years ago, I lost a great friend. Besides being a great friend, mentor, personal cheerleader, Dave was like a second dad to every one of his voice students. This man brought us to the stage of the Hippodrome to sing alongside Kenny Rogers. He brought us to the Christmas Ball hosted by the White House. He brought us to sing at Carnegie Hall. And while on that trip to New York City, he bought us all ice cream cones.
Dave courageously battled leukemia, and after a lengthy stay at the hospital serenading the nurses and undoubtedly becoming their favorite patient, the cancer returned. The second cancer treatment proved too much to his already delicate condition. Two weeks before my nuptials, I lost one of the best friends I’ve ever made.
It took me a few years to grieve him. It’s only now, five years later, that I can think of him without bawling. I remember the day when his wife, Cheri, told me that the last hope for him was to be matched with a donor for bone marrow. I never even knew this was something people donated. They had to search far and wide. I offered to donate mine, but she told me that it had to be people of similar genetic makeup. None of his siblings were a match, and that would have been the easiest. I’m not sure where in the world his bone marrow match lives, but I thank this anonymous man for trying to save his life.
Every 4 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. 360 people a day. 15 people EACH HOUR. You could be the cure. Be the Match.”
On a recent trip to Maryland this year I was faced with a Be The Match billboard inside the car rental building at BWI. For whatever reason, that billboard was a sign. It was a sign that I was ready to finally do what I didn’t have the courage to do. I registered for the Be the Match registry, or the Bone Marrow Donor registry.
It was easy, really. I looked up how to become a bone marrow donor and found a wealth of information. When you join Be The Match Registry, your tissue type is added to the registry. It’s not a marrow donation; you don’t actually donate until you are a match for a patient. All you do is register online and fill out a preliminary questionnaire for your background information. (Note: it is HIGHLY recommended that those of us with ethnic and/or multicultural backgrounds register, as those people are the least likely to find a match with the current donor pool.)
After the short health survey, you are given one of the most powerful messages ever: Thank you for giving patients hope.
If you can brush your teeth, you can register for the bone marrow registry.
Do something philanthropic this summer. July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. Read the story of a young boy with sickle cell anemia in need of a bone marrow transplant. On the same page, you can read the story of a peripheral blood stem cells’ donor and how painless it was to help a young girl with sickle cell anemia.