Registries seek to match donors with rising marrow demand

Posted: March 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) A year ago, Nancy Demers, 71, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a deficiency in the bone marrow. The disease can eventually become leukemia.

Its treated as if it were cancer but there is no cure for it, said her son, Scott Demers.

Now Nancy Demers has a new chance at life, thanks to advances in bone marrow stem cell transplants.

If I didnt do this, once I went out of remission its not if, its when I would go into acute leukemia and there will be nothing there to help me, Nancy Demers said. This will save my life and give me time.

Demers is one of a rapidly growing number of people looking to depend on strangers to donate marrow since she doesnt have a match within her family.

The rising number of patients seeking bone marrow has created new demands on registries that seek to match patient needs with willing donors.

Each sibling has a 25 percent chance of being a transplant match, according to Dr. Joseph Antin, chief and program director of the adult stem cell transplantation program at Dana Farber Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.

In the United States, about 30 percent of patients find a donor within their family, according to Be the Match. Those who dont must turn to international registries to find an unrelated donor.

Around 15 years ago, doctors couldnt do a transplant on anyone over the age of 50, according to Dr. Leslie Lehmann, clinical director of the Stem Cell Transplant Center at Dana Farber.

Its a big stress on the body, Lehmann said.

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Registries seek to match donors with rising marrow demand

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