Facts About Bone Marrow
Kailee Wells is one of 3,000 people in the U.S., many of them children, who are searching for a suitable bone-marrow donor at any given time. Finding a match is difficult because everyone's bone marrow is unique, much like a set of fingerprints. The only perfect match would come from an identical twin. But transplants can be successful when tissue types are close. Matches are determined via a simple blood test known as human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing. The test identifies ten antigens, which can occur in a variety of combinations. The greatest chance of transplant success comes when a recipient and a donor share all ten antigens. Finding the right match can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. "But the more people who have their blood tested and their names listed on the registry, the better our chance of making a match," says Debbie Richards, R.N., who coordinates bone-marrow-donor surgeries at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The need is particularly acute for people of Asian, Hispanic, Native-American, and African descent.
Join Us--Become a Donor
Parents has donated $10,000 to the Marrow Foundation, a partner of the National Marrow Donor Program, to help cover lab costs of tissue-typing blood (fees can be as much as $96 per volunteer) and particularly to support the recruitment of minority donors. You can help by starting or joining a bone-marrow drive in your community--check local blood banks or Red Cross facilities. To learn more about joining the National Marrow Donor Registry or to find a donor center near you, visit www.marrow.org or call 800-627-7692. Interested readers can also contact Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AAMDSIF) at 1-800-747-2820, or through the web at www.aamds.org.