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.