A couple of weeks ago, I got a package in the mail containing four cotton swaps. I took each one, brushed them against the inside of my cheek, put them in an envelope, and mailed them off.
I am now officially a member of the Be the Match Bone Marrow Registry.
Sorry to get serious, but it’s time for me to step up on the soap box. Hey, don’t roll your eyes- I haven’t done this for awhile, and last time I did, it was about something similar—platelet donation.
Last year, I read this wonderful article in the Globe about a teenage cancer patient meeting the woman from England whose bone marrow had saved her life. I had thought about joining the registry before, but this was what convinced me that I had to do it.
There are a lot of people and organizations out there that need help, and there are plenty of ways to volunteer—donating money, donating time, raising awareness. But it’s sometimes hard to quantify exactly how what you’re doing is helping.
But joining the bone marrow registry doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself for volunteering– it literally saves lives. Bone marrow transplants are often the last chance for people with certain types of cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. If you are identified as a match, you undergo a minor surgical procedure to extract some marrow from your pelvic bones and might feel some discomfort afterwards. You are more likely to be a match with someone whose ethnic background is similar to yours. I’m white, and noted on the donation form that I have both Western European and Eastern European ancestry. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and multiracial donors are especially needed, though. Those of you who fall into any of those categories might particularly want to consider joining the registry.
Here is the site for the Be the Match registry, where you can learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor. You might never be called to donate for anyone, or you might save someone’s life. Just in case the latter turns out to be true, I think it’s worth it.