I lost my brother Rand (see photos above) to leukemia on February 18, 2004 when a matching bone marrow donor could not be found. A bone marrow transplant was his last chance for survival when the chemotherapy had stopped working. He was only 45 years-old when he died. I was tested, and my (HLA) tissue type was not a match. And no one in the world wide marrow registries was a match for him, either. He died waiting for a matching donor to be found.
You can read about my brother's battle with leukemia here:
Being a matching marrow donor is NOT based on blood type, which is a common misconception. Matching is based on your HLA type, which is inherited from your parents. This is why siblings are the best hope for a match, but siblings still only have a 25% chance of matching. Another 5% are lucky enough to find a match in their extended family. But an overwhelming 70% of all patients needing a bone marrow transplant must rely on the kindness of a total stranger in the marrow registry to save their lives!
Please consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry.
Anyone in good health between the ages of 18-60 can join,
and the test to join is just a simple cheek swab.
HE WHO SAVES ONE LIFE, IT IS AS IF HE
HAD SAVED THE ENTIRE WORLD.” -From the Talmud
HOW TO JOIN THE NATIONAL MARROW REGISTRY
1. In the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan area, you can join the Marrow Registry for free when you donate blood through any branch of the Central Blood Bank with locations throughout Western PA and northern WV. Just tell them you want to join, and they will have you fill out the consent form and give you the cheek swab test. You might be able to join even if you’ve been told you can’t give blood. The criterion for joining the marrow registry is different than the criterion for donating blood. For example, you can’t give blood if you’ve traveled certain countries or had a tattoo in the past year. These factors do not prohibit you from joining the marrow registry.
2. Join the Marrow Registry at a marrow donor screening drive in your area. These drives take place all across the country from time to time, so just check the listings below to find an upcoming marrow screening drive in your area. The test is just a simple cheek swab to determine your HLA type. No blood is needed. It's never been easier to join!
Find a marrow donor screening drive in your area:
3. Join the Marrow Registry online, and a testing kit will be mailed to your home. You can then give yourself the easy cheek swab test at home, and mail it back. Take the test in your pajamas in the comfort of your home at a time convenient for you! It doesn't get any easier than that. And if you're ever found to be someone's miracle match, you might truly help save a life someday.
Click here to register online via the National Marrow Donor Program's web site.
Click here to register online via the Gift of Life web site.
4. Outside of the Pittsburgh area, find a Marrow Donor Center in the United States:
Outside of the United States, find an International Marrow Donor Center:
When you join the National Bone Marrow Registry, you become part of a world-wide database, with the potential to save someone's life anywhere in the world if you are found to be a match. Each day there are 6000 people searching for a matching donor, and over 70 diseases that can be treated with bone marrow or adult blood stem cell transplant.
You might be someone's LIFE SAVING MATCH!
You can be a REAL-LIFE SUPERHERO!
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If you can't join the marrow registry due to age or
health constraints, you can still
word about the registry! Education is the key to saving lives.
I know it sounds obvious, but people can't join unless they know the program exists. Education is the key to increasing the number of people on the National Bone Marrow Registry. Together, we can help to educate our family and friends. Together we can help save lives.
Every year, approximately 35,000 people are stricken with leukemia and other blood-related diseases. In the past, such a diagnosis was often lethal. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments could often induce a remission, but rarely offer a cure. Today, transplantation of healthy stem cells donated by related and unrelated volunteers, offers hope for many patients suffering from these deadly diseases. Advances in transplantation have made this procedure a reality for thousands who are alive today because a stranger gave them the gift of life. But many more patients could be saved if more people were listed in the registry, increasing the odds of finding a life-saving match.
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It is indeed a tragedy that so many patients who could
be saved from this
life-saving procedure cannot be
treated because a matching donor can't be found.
In order to have a transplant, there must be a donor: a volunteer who shares a tissue type similar to the patient. For many, finding a match is no easy task. Matching is based on tissue type, not blood type. After you join the marrow registry, it may be as little as a few months or as much as five or even ten years after being tested before you receive that special call to help save a life. In fact, you may never be called as a suitably matched donor for a patient! The only way you will ever know if you can help save a life is by taking the first step to be tested. Perhaps one day you might be given the opportunity to participate in a true miracle. What greater gift can one human being give to another than the gift of life?
Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA)
Proteins on white blood cells that make each person's tissue unique. The HLA A, B, C and DR proteins are important in matching patients and donors for a marrow or blood stem cell transplant. Human Leukocyte Antigens are specific cell surface molecules (antigens) that are found on almost all human tissues. These antigens are identified for both the potential recipient and donor candidates prior to any transplantation procedure. This identification process is known as “HLA typing”.
The more closely matched the recipient and donor’s HLAs are, the more likely the transplanted tissue will be compatible with and tolerated by the recipient. Registries, or databases, containing information on HLA-typed bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donors are maintained in many countries to help facilitate the location of an appropriately matched stem cell source for potential transplantation procedures.
A person's own specific HLA A, B, C and DR proteins. Patients are matched with stem cell donors or cord blood units by comparing their HLA tissue types. HLA is the name given to the system used to identify the unique markers (antigens) that the immune system recognizes. These unique markers are found on virtually all cells in the body, including white blood cells. In a stem cell transplant, six HLA antigens are considered most important for matching: two A antigens, two B antigens and two DR antigens.
HLA type is inherited through the genes passed down from parents. The genes are linked together in strands of three: three antigens from the mother and three from the father. This is why siblings are the first place to look for a match, since a brother or sister may have inherited the same HLA type. But even with siblings, there is only a 25% chance for a match, leaving 75% of all patients seeking a life-saving match from an unrelated donor.
A group of cancers of the white blood cells. Leukemias can be acute (fast forming) or chronic (slow growing). Leukemia causes excessive growth of immature white blood cells called "blasts." These blasts do not perform any of the beneficial functions of a healthy, mature white blood cell, such as fighting off disease and infection. Furthermore, they multiply in such enormous volume as to crowd out the healthy cells that remain. This often leads to anemia, impaired blood clotting, and bruising easily in the Leukemia patient.
Learn more about the marrow registry:
But please help spread the word.
Together we can help save lives.
In Loving Memory of My Brother, Rand. E. Alansky
September 22, 1958-February 18, 2004
Deena N. Alansky
Read about my brother's battle with leukemia:
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