Consider Being a Stem Cell Donor or a Blood Donor


“You need a stem cell (bone marrow)” transplant”.  Those are chilling words that many people suffering from “blood cancers” hear nowadays.  The words are not chilling because of the need for the transplant as they are words that offer hope.  No, they are chilling because it means  a donor has to be found and that is no easy task.

Unlike blood transfusions that rely on simple factors like blood type, stem cell transplants rely on a large number of genetic factors; simply having the same blood type as a transplant recipient doesn’t enter the picture.   The best candidates for a donor are the recipient’s siblings and family members but that is no guarantee a match will be found.  Some patients are very lucky in that a family donor is a perfect match but many more have to rely on the larger population as a whole.  And this is where the problem lies as simply not enough people are registered as stem cell donors.  Moreover, the problem is magnified for certain ethnic segments of the population as donor registrations in those populations are virtually non-existent.

Why don’t people register as stem cell donors?  That’s hard to say but there is a preconception out there that the donation procedure is “painful”.  The process of donating stem cells, if you are selected as a donor, is not much more rigorous than donating blood (which is also something that people should do more often).  Yes, there can be some discomfort involved but the days of having a needle painfully jabbed into your hip bone are long gone.  A few hours connected to a “cell separation” machine are all that is required.

Itgroove family members have been touched by this need and, thankfully, a family donor was found.  But many others are not so lucky.

So, this is a simple plea … register as both a blood donor and a stem cell donor.  This simple, generous act could literally be a lifesaver!