Bone marrow donation easier than ever

Posted: June 1, 2012 at 2:15 am

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - There are two ways to donate bone marrow. The method used depends on the patient and is determined by their doctor. It's easier than ever and one volunteer is making sure that message is told.

It's a touching story, a young woman finds out she has leukemia, her long time friend sets out to help find a match to save her life.

The woman is Leslie Harris, now mother to a healthy baby boy, born theday doctors diagnosed her.Her future is still unsure. After three rounds of chemo, she's waiting for a bone marrow match.

He's not a student, but Colin Hall carries his backpack with him everywhere. Inside: his swabbing kits used to find a potential bone marrow donor for his friend Leslie Harris.

GetSwabbed.orgis out to "defeat blood cancer by empowering people to take action, give bone marrow and save lives." Hall is a volunteer rep for the DKMS organization.

Hall says, "Once I found out about [Leslie's leukemia]I got online to send out for MY free bone marrow kit because she needed a bone marrow transplant."

That urgent and emotional response was just the beginning of Hall's involvement in bone marrow donation work. He says the statistics are daunting, "Only 1 in 20,000 people become a match for somebody. And part of the problem is there is only 2 percentof the population on the registry. So we need to get more people on that registry so more people have a chance of finding a match."

While finding a match for the patient is hard enough, add to that the fact that many qualified donors don't know how easy the process can actually be.

Dr. Steve Medlin, with the Myeloma Institute at UAMS, says technology has come a long way in just a few short years.

"This used to be a painful procedure -or a more difficult procedure anyway-in which we'd have to extract the stem cells from the bone marrow typically from the hip bones. Now it's a much more simple procedure...and much better tolerated. It's just a process that takes maybe an hour or so to get the cathater in and maybe 4 to 6 hours on a machine to collect the stem cells then the cathater's out and the process is finished." says Medlin.

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Bone marrow donation easier than ever

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