UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - According to the National Bone Marrow Donor registry, Be the Match, about 16,000 people will need a bone marrow transplant each year. Unfortunately, only about 6,000 of them will find a match.
To donate bone marrow to a patient, the donor must have genetic match to the patient. According to Be the Match Community Representative Amanda Cooley, sometimes it’s difficult to find a match. For example, only about 30 percent of the time will a relative be a genetic match to a patient.
“It is important that we diversify the registry and recruit as many ethnically diverse donors because since it is genetically based, most people have the best chance at finding their match with the same ethnic background,” Cooley said.
Based on the ethnic backgrounds of current donors registered with Be the Match, Caucasian patients have a 77 percent chance at finding a match, while African American patients have a 23 percent chance. To improve those numbers, there needs to be more people registered to donate.
“Know that everyone could play a part because it could be you one day that needs a transplant or knows someone that needs a transplant,” Cooley said.
Anthony Schmidt, 9, has been waiting for a match for nearly five years. According to his mom, Dawn, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as Fanconi. Because of his disorder, he needs a bone marrow transplant to protect him from serious health problems like Leukemia.
“It’s super frustrating because I know there’s somebody out there that’s fit for him,” Dawn Schmidt said.
Like 70 percent of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant, none of Anthony’s family members are a genetic match, not even his twin sister.
“He means a lot to me and my family,” Isabella Schmidt said. “Like mom said, we’ve been waiting five years and she just really wants him to get a match.”
The Schmidt’s are hoping more people will register to become donors so that Anthony and others have a better chance at finding a match.
“This is why, because he deserves a chance to be like everybody else,” Dawn Schmidt said. “He deserves a chance to be a kid.”
To register to become a bone marrow transplant donor, you can text TEAMANTHONY to 61474. Be the Match will then send information for you to get registered. They will send you a kit in the mail that includes a cotton swab. You will swab the inside of your mouth and send it back to be tested.
If you are a match for someone, Be the Match will contact you to ask if you are still interested in donating. The donation process can happen in one of two ways. The most common way, Cooley says, it’s like donating platelets or plasma. A second way to donate is through an outpatient procedure.
“I had the procedure done on a Friday and I was just sore afterwards for a few days and then I was back at work,” Cooley said. “Either way that is chosen, it is just a little bit of discomfort for the cure that you’re possibly giving the recipient.”
For more information about Be the Match click here: https://bethematch.org/