National Marrow Donor Program: Be the Match, Save a Life!

Donating blood is something that is very important to everyone here at Incept. Every day we talk to blood donors from across the country, many of whom donate several times a year. However, there are a lot of other great ways to save a life out there too. One of my favorites is the National Marrow Donor Program.

Created in 1991 by Admiral E. R. Zumwalt Jr., the National Marrow Donor Program strives to further research on bone marrow transplants, provides financial aid for patients in need and helps patients find a matching marrow donor. Just as with blood transfusions, bone marrow can only come from marrow donors whose type matches the recipient. In most cases, family members are able to donate the needed marrow, but if the patient doesn’t have a family member who would be a good match, the National Marrow Donor Program is there to find a compatible donor.

What exactly is bone marrow, though, and why is it so important? Bone marrow is the spongy stem cell tissue that  produces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Bone marrow can be found in the sternum, pelvis, skull, ribs and femur bones of your body. The marrow also stores extra iron in the body.

If something is wrong with the bone marrow, it might not be able to produce enough blood cells to keep us healthy. After all, red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, and our white blood cells are what helps us fight off diseases and infection.

Why are bone marrow transplants needed in the first place, you ask?

Bone marrow transplants may be needed to replace bone marrow that isn’t working correctly or has been damaged by chemotherapy or radiation. There are also several diseases that attack bone marrow that might make a transplant necessary. Diseases such as aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and certain cancers (such as leukemia and lymphoma) all cause damage to the bone marrow.

Being a bone marrow donor is a great way to help someone in your community who really needs it. It’s easy to get registered as a bone marrow donor – most blood centers can help get you set up and answer any questions you might have.

How many blood donors out there are also marrow donors?