Every year, thousands of adults and children need bone marrow transplants -- a procedure which may be their only chance for survival. Although some patients with aplastic anemia, leukemia, or other cancers have a genetically matched family member who can donate, about 70 percent do not. These patients' lives depend on finding an unrelated individual with a compatible tissue type -- often within their own ethnic group -- who is willing to donate marrow.
There is a critical need for more volunteer donors. Many patients, especially those from minority groups, cannot find a compatible donor among those on the registry. Patients and donors must have matching tissue types, and these matches are found most often between people of the same ethnic group. A large, ethnically diverse group of prospective donors will give more patients a chance for survival.
Marrow is the tissue found inside bones that produces red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These vital blood cells fight infection, carry oxygen, and help control bleeding. Any disease that attacks the bone marrow can eliminate the body's ability to protect itself.
If you are in good health and between the ages of 18 and 60, you may be eligible to join the NMDP's registry, where patients seeking a compatible donor begin their search.
Copyright 2005 Community Blood Center