It is easier than ever to help someone with a life-threatening illness such as lymphoma or leukemia.
There are several ways to go about signing up to donate bone marrow, but Be the Match Registry, an online bone marrow registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, with more than nine million donors, has created an efficient way to find out if you are a potential donor and, if you are, help out a person in need.
For first-time potential donors, you can sign up online and Be the Match Registry will mail you a kit that you use to swab and collect cheek cells. You then mail the kit back, which is tissue typed and becomes part of the ever-growing registry.
Doctors search the Be the Match Registry when a patient is in need. About 70 percent of transplants come from outside of a person's family. If a donor is a match, they decide if they want to go through with it. If they do, the donor process involves undergoing a surgical procedure on the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles, according to the Be the Match Registry website, www.BeTheMatch.org.
Or they can undergo peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation, which takes a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. To sign up for a cheek swab kit, visit www.BeTheMatch.org or call (800) 627-7692.
Another way expecting families can help is by donating umbilical cord blood after their baby is born. If a family chooses to help in this way, after the birth, the umbilical cord is removed, collected, tested and stored for future use. The only hospital in Arizona that officially works with Be the Match Registry is Phoenix Baptist Hospital, 2000 W. Bethany Home Road in Phoenix. To find out more and explore other options, contact the University of Colorado Cord Blood Bank at (303) 724-1306.
You can also save lives by signing up for the Donor Network of Arizona, which can be done online at www.azdonorregistry.org, or by calling (800) 94-DONOR. For terminally-ill patients, organ donations, such as that of the kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and small intestine, can be the difference between life or death.
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