Be the Match – The National Marrow Donor Program

by PJ Mullen on June 19, 2010

in June 2010 Nominees, Spread Your Warmth

The latest nominee for Sweatshirt Blanket’s Spread Your Warmth campaign for June is Be the Match – The National Marrow Donor Program. They are nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receive the bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant they need, when they need it.

Every year, thousands of people of all ages are diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of people do not have a donor in their family and depend on our Be The Match Registry® to find a match to save their life.

When their 10-year-old daughter Laura was diagnosed with leukemia, Robert Graves, D.V.M., and his wife Sherry were ready to do anything they could to save her. They agreed to try a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor — the first ever for a leukemia patient.

Laura received her transplant in 1979 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The treatment gave her an extra year and a half of life.

This experience inspired Dr. Graves to launch a quest to create a national registry of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow. His early efforts brought together other patient families and transplant doctors, spurring a federal mandate that led to the creation of the National Marrow Donor Program. As a result, they began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers.

Today their registry — now called the Be The Match Registry — has grown to more than 8 million donors and more than 160,000 searchable cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world.

Medical advances are making marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants available to more patients all the time. Since they began operations in 1987, they have facilitated more than 38,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, they facilitate more than 4,800 transplants a year.

Thank you to the person who nominated Be the Match for the June edition of the Spread Your Warmth campaign. If you would like to learn more about Be the Match visit their website.

Got a favorite charitable cause? Spread your warmth!

Through our ‘Spread Your Warmth’ campaign Sweatshirt Blanket profiles worthy charitable causes and organizations from across the country. Each month one of these causes will be voted on to receive a donation of customized sweatshirt blankets from us. Want to nominate a charitable cause for us to profile? Click here for our nomination form.

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