You Can Save a Life! Be The Match(SM) Connects Searching Transplant Patients with their Match of a Lifetime

Style News Wire | 4/9/2009, 10:17 p.m.
As I was listening to KSBJ one morning I was moved to hear a mother of three calling in to ...

The NMDP relies on people across communities to help save the lives of critically ill people around the world. But low awareness of the 21-year-old organization is impeding efforts to support the thousands of patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases who need an unrelated bone marrow or cord blood transplant.

Now, the NMDP wants you to get to know them and is introducing a new name for its donor and umbilical cord blood registry ­ Be The Match(SM).

“Be The Match is a call to action. You could be the one to save a life is the simple and powerful truth encompassed by the new name of our registry,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., CEO, NMDP. “As medical advances are making transplants available to more patients of all ages than ever before, we need everyone to step forward. We need people to join the Be The Match Registry, donate cord blood, make a financial contribution and volunteer.”

Seventy percent of patients in need of a transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. They depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a match ­ and a second chance at life.

While many patients do find the life-saving match they need each year, more donors are needed, especially those from racially and ethnically diverse communities. Since marrow and blood cell transplants require matching certain inherited tissue traits, a patient’s most likely match is someone of the same heritage. Right now, minority patients are still less likely than Caucasians to identify a matched donor. “I will never regret in my life joining that registry, never regret it!” says Jackie Byrd, donor to 12-year-old Paizley, who had sickle cell anemia. “You can do good things while you’re on earth, and things to help people live longer on earth.”

Be The Match will help expand the registry of adult donors and cord blood units and deepen the commitment of new and existing members.

“We want people to know they have the power to help a little girl waiting for a transplant who dreams of being a ballerina, or a young father who wants to be there for his child¹s first birthday,” added Chell.

How to Get Involved

There are several ways to help support patients:

* Grow the registry by becoming a member or donating cord blood

* Make a tax-deductible contribution

* Volunteer your time

“Gifts to Be The Match Foundation make life-saving transplants a reality for patients,” said Christine Fleming, foundation president. “Financial contributions help add new members to the registry, provide financial assistance to patients and donors who need it, and help improve the quality of life for patients through scientific research.”

Opportunities for you to get involved here in Houston are coming up soon. The launch of Be The Match will be celebrated at several local events, including the Houston International Festival on April 18-19 and April 25-26, the Puerto Rican Festival on April 19, Relay for Life on April 24, and the Be The Match Bad to the Bone Marrow Ride on May 16.

Houstonians can also support the effort by joining the registry at drives taking place throughout the city. More information about citywide activities can be found online at the redesigned website www.BeTheMatch.org.