In early May, I became one of the recipients of the 32nd annual Advisors with Heart Award. The award is designed by Rep. magazine to recognize people within the financial services industry whose commitment to charitable causes is something beyond a generous donation. As gratifying, and humbling, as it is to receive recognition by my peers, the most significant part of the award is that it gives me another platform to promote the importance of something that truly has become a personal quest: to inform people about the bone marrow donation registry, to correct some popular misconceptions about the donation process and to explain the impact each person can have by becoming a potential donor by joining the registry.
The bone marrow registry, initially established in 1986, has approximately nine million names on it. Nine million may seem like a large number, but it really isn’t. The reality of the bone marrow donation problem demonstrates just how small nine million really is. Roughly 10,000 people in the United States need a bone marrow transplant each year and only about half of them are able to receive one because of the difficulty in finding a match. About 30% of those receiving transplants are able to be matched with a relative; the remaining 70% need to go through the registry.
Getting on the Registry
To get on the bone marrow registry, all you need to do is have your cheek swabbed. The sample that is taken will be analyzed to check your human leukocyte antigens, inherited proteins that are the key to being matched with a potential patient in need. Only 0.5% of those who have their cheek swabbed will qualify as a preliminary match with someone in need of a transplant. If a potential match is found, a confirmatory blood test is undertaken and only 8% of those who reach the blood test stage will be verified as true matches. The odds are so low that, given the need for roughly 7000 registry matches a year, a bare minimum of 18 million people would have to be on the registry to have any chance of fully meeting the need. Even if the numbers swelled to 50 million, the need would still be great because a broad diversity of ethnic and genetic profiles are critical. To join the Bone Marrow Donor registry, go to: SwabMyCheek.com.
There’s a misconception that the actual process of donating bone marrow is a horribly painful process. This was not my experience. I went through a process called peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, which involves a five-day regimen of injections to stimulate stem cell production, followed by donation through an IV. An estimated 10-30% of participants experience side effects, with the most common being stiffness and soreness at the injection site. The donation process itself is essentially completely painless. It takes about five hours but involves no discomfort behind the initial prick of the IV insertion.
The Best Part of All
By signing up for the registry and, if a match is made, donating bone marrow, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you may be directly saving a life. Upon donation, you have the opportunity to anonymously communicate with the recipient and in most cases receive updates on his or her condition. It’s difficult to put into words how gratifying an experience this is, from beginning to end.
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Written by Bradford Pine
Bradford Pine Wealth Group – New York City Financial Advisors
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