What Are the Odds?

I’m feeling pretty good these days but I have a 50/50 chance of needing another bone marrow transplant in the next two years.

There are around 70 diseases for which a bone marrow transplant is a viable treatment and in only a few instances—such as my lymphoma—is an autologous transplant an option. That’s where the patient’s own cells are used. This approach removes the deadly possibility of Graft-Versus-Host disease but it has a higher likelihood of the cancer returning.

If I need a transplant and can’t find a match within my family I would join the 7,500 Americans who are actively searching the national registry for a donor at any given time.

I would have about a 75% chance of finding a match since I’m Caucasian. If I were Hispanic the odds would drop to about 45%, Asian to 40%, African American to 25%. If I were of mixed race they would plummet even lower.

And if I discovered a match in the registry, there’s a 35% chance that person could not be located or would change their mind about donating; a 66% chance for African Americans.

These sobering numbers are part of the reason why about 1,000 people die every year while searching for a suitable donor.

You can im prove the odds of survival for cancer patients like me by joining the bone marrow registry. You don’t even have to leave your house to sign up. Learn more at Be The Match.


3 thoughts on “What Are the Odds?

  1. Hi Mike,
    Karen Jackson here – remember me from Laurel Park?? I’ve been following your blog. Thank you for the transparency about your journey, both spiritual and physical. I contacted the NBMD to see if they have changed the rules on cancer survivors donating. Alas, nope. So I struck out. I am now nine years survivor after stage 3 metastic melanoma. Unfortunately that means I am permanently excluded from donating. I hope your blog inspires those who CAN to GIVE! In His hope,

  2. Thanks for bringing this up. Many people are interested but don’t know how to do it. I think there is a lot of confusion about the difference between bone marrow transplant and stem cell transplant. The web site explains it but still doesn’t says exactly when each one is used. I tell people that most of the time it’s stem cells, not surgery. Also nobody asked me, but I liked the old name, National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, better than Be The Match. The new one sounds kinda silly. Oh well. They’ve got a great mission and they do a great job, as I know on a personal level.

  3. We are able to save more lives today than we were 20 years ago as a result. The term bone marrow transplant always brings up the image of someone going into an o.r. And having bone marrow put in. But it’s not that. It’s actually more like a blood transfusion.

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