SALT LAKE CITY (Good Things Utah) — According to Be the Match (a.k.a. the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry) in partnership with Summit Academy High School, there are over 70 blood cancers and other blood diseases that can be cured with patients’ lives saved as a result. This is done by an advanced procedure in which a patient’s diseased blood-forming cells are intentionally destroyed and then replaced by a transplant from a healthy donor.
Because of the need to have such a close genetic match between the donor and the recipient, it is very difficult to find matching donors. Only 30% of patients will find matches within their own families. The remaining 70% must find an unrelated donor and the odds of that happening can be 1 in several million. Despite there being 22 million potential donors registered, there are still 12,000 patients waiting for a match. Even with so many registrants, just to find one donor the program needs to register 400 people.
Summit Academy has taken part in Be the Match for several years, adding over 800 patients to the registry last year alone. The school is considered to be one of the top three HOSA chapters in the country.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 40, you can join the Be the Match registry. Go to bethematch.org and select the “Donate Bone Marrow” tab to request a swab kit to be sent to your home. Then swab your cheek as directed and return it.
If you are overqualified — meaning older than 40 — you can contribute monetarily or have a conversation with your children or grandchildren and encourage them to join. The more people we get on the registry, the more lives we save.
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