If someone was sitting across from you and asked if you were willing to have a sore back for a few days in order to save their life, most people wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. However, many people aren’t always this eager to donate bone marrow.
Not many people even think about bone marrow — unless they are in need of it. Healthy bone marrow is crucial for survival. According to medicalnewstoday.com, bone marrow is responsible for many processes in the body. One of these important processes includes creating more than 200 billion new blood cells every day.
The process for someone to be tested and entered into a worldwide registry is extremely easy — a cotton swab of your saliva — but not enough people know this. Only 2 percent of the U.S. population is on the national registry, according to the Institute for Justice. Mrs. LesLee Hacker, science teacher and mother of a bone marrow recipient, addresses the lack of education on bone marrow transplants and describes the process as, “So removed you don’t know who that person is.” This distance between donor and receiver could be one of the reasons people hesitate to donate.
Freshman Emily Monzu said she might change her opinion on donating if she received more information, specifically “who you were giving it to and why they needed it.”
Dkms.org and bethematch.org are two websites that do their best to connect those who want to donate with the people who need it.
At a local level, Lolo’s Angels is doing its part as well. Hacker said that Lolo’s Angels plans to have a mass training of high school students so that they will be able to organize bone marrow drives. Branching out into universities and further out into Omaha is also a goal for the organization. Lolo’s Angels will specifically try to target minority populations, whose odds of surviving without a bone marrow donation are much lower.
A critical component of Lolo’s Angels’ intent is education.“We need to get out in Omaha and realize that their [minorities’] odds are lower. Our mission is to change that,” Hacker said.
There are two ways to donate bone marrow. One form of donation is non-invasive and is taken from a simple blood donation from which stem cells are harvested. According to dkms.org, this donation is used in 75 percent of cases and it takes 4 to 8 hours over the period of one to two days.
Some people, generally children, receiving bone marrow can only accept it directly. This process involves the donor going under anesthesia and bone marrow cells are taken with a syringe from the back of your pelvic bone.
Donating bone marrow is generally a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, although some donors and recipients stay connected after the initial transplant, and donors have been eager to help again.
Hacker hopes that by educating people in Omaha and beyond about the importance and need of bone marrow, more people will register, and therefore, be able to save the lives of those, like her daughter, who are suffering from blood cancer.
Like Hacker’s daughter, freshman Kate Jensen’s brother received a bone marrow donation. Seven years ago, the donor was influenced to register because her friend was diagnosed with cancer and sadly passed away. A couple years later, Jensen’s little brother was diagnosed with cancer and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. “Laura, my brother’s donor, got the call and said yes — thank goodness,” Jensen said. “It [donating bone marrow] is so important. Lives are changed all the time.”
Banner courtesy of lifesource.org