I was recently attending a music festival and I saw an odd booth. It stood out from all of the others, no shirts to sell, no jewelry hanging up. Still, there were a lot of curious people going into it, and what looked like other people brushing their teeth already inside. As I got in and started reading the material I realized that every single one of these people were signing up to be a part of Be The Match, a global registry of possible marrow donors.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program and manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. They even have 193,000 umbilical cord blood units on the registry, which can be used to cure blood and genetic disorders. Plus, there more than 11 million volunteers currently who are on call to donate bone marrow should someone who is in need of it be matched up with them. I am one of these volunteers, and you could be too!
Each donor a part of Be The Match has a different story to tell of why they decided to sign up to be the match for someone in need, and I was definitely touched by Johnathan’s story.
Johnathan signed up 8 years ago as a student at the Texas School of Business. Four long years went by before a woman with non-Hodgkin lymphoma needed his help. After plenty of testing, they realized he was a perfect match for her and he donated his peripheral blood stem cells. When his family asked him why he did it he said, “My son Nicholas was born with cystic fibrosis. I would hope that if someone could help him, they would.”
Johnathan contacted Melissa, his donation recipient, one year after his donation and they kept in contact via social media and e-mail. Unfortunately, Melissa had a cancer relapse just three years after her life-saving treatment and once again, Johnathan donated his blood stem cells to help Melissa rid herself of her cancer. To other registry members Johnathan says, “Once you get the call and you get to donate, you are a hero to at least one person. It’s the best feeling – you’re a hero.”
You can become a part of this great cause and have your own hero story by going to Join the Bone Marrow Registry and signing up on the Be the Match site or at a donor registry drive. Perhaps you will see the booth that inspired me to volunteer at your next event, and I hope you’ll think about what it means to be someone’s match and save a life.