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Bone Marrow Registry Encourages You to “Be the Match”

Students in the medical assistant training program learn about bone marrow donation

Hamilton, NJ. Have you ever wondered if you could truly make a difference in someone’s life? The students enrolled at the Harris School of Business, Hamilton campus, recently learned one way to do so. On May 28, the Be The Match Registry visited the campus and spoke with students and staff about bone marrow donation.

Bone marrow donation can be a life-saving procedure for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, aplastic anemia, and dozens of other diseases of the blood. Some of these patients require a bone marrow transplant while others can be treated with donated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC).

“Our students and staff were very interested in learning about this process. Some of them took the step of signing up for the registry that same day. We were proud of everyone in the group for taking the time to learn more about this important donation program,” says Patricia Capaldo, campus director at the Hamilton campus.

Donating bone marrow is different from donating blood. Bone marrow donation requires more planning and more time. Patients need to be matched ahead of time with their potential donors through a series of tests.

How do you become a donor? The process begins by joining the registry. You will be asked to fill out some paperwork and take a cheek swab. The cheek swab tests your tissue type in order to determine whether you might be a match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC). Some donors may never be contacted. For others it can be weeks, months, or years before they are contacted.

If your cheek swab matches a patient’s tissue, the registry will contact you. First you will go through further blood testing to be sure you are a match. If you are a match, the process for donating bone marrow involves an operation done under anesthesia to remove liquid marrow from your pelvic bones. Donating PBSC is more like blood donation. It is done by drawing blood from one arm, passing the blood through a machine that removes the PBSC cells, and then returning the blood through your other arm.

Deciding to join the registry is an important commitment. The registry will keep your name on the list until you are 61 years old. If you join the registry but later change your mind, please be sure to contact Be the Match right away to remove your name. Also, remember to send Be The Match any changes to your contact information. It is important that they can contact you quickly if a match comes up. Remember, there is no time to spare when it comes to the patient’s needs.

Be The Match is a bone marrow donation registry run by the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. Over 12.5 million volunteers are signed up for the registry and prepared to donate life-saving bone marrow or PBSC when it is needed. In addition, for new parents who are interested in donating their baby’s umbilical cord blood, the registry houses over 209,000 umbilical cord blood units.

If you are interested in joining the Be the Match registry or simply just reading more about it, visit the Be The Match website. It provides detailed information on how to sign up, what your commitment is as a donor, and what you can expect if you are asked to donate.

The Harris School of Business, Hamilton Campus, offers three career-focused training programs: Professional Medical Assistant Plus, Health Claims Specialist Plus (medical billing and coding training), and Massage Therapy. The Harris School believes it is important to teach students about community service, donation programs, and other ways that we can help one another as a community. We are proud to be a part of spreading the word for the Be The Match registry.