June 24, 2009


This year's two-week Be The Match Marrowthon successfully registered over 21000 people in the United States - all for free!

US donors are usually asked to pay about $52 as a full price. Actually it costs a total of $100 to register each donor, it's just that part is funded by the registry.

However, there are ways to register for very little or for free every day.
  • In the Canada, the UK, and many other countries, registration is always free.
  • If you are in an ethnic group that is difficult to find matches for, go to a donor center and see if they have funds to cover your registration. They understand the extreme level of difficulty finding a donor match and the severe shortages within certain ethnic groups.
  • Be on the lookout for promotional codes being advertised for patients. These promotions are paid for by the patient, friends and family for a certain amount of people to register for free. Usually this person is in a difficult group to match. If you find a code, please be respectful, and only use it if you are in a same or similar ethnic group.
  • In some areas, you can donate platelets twice to offset the cost of becoming a bone marrow donor. Inquire with your local blood donor centre.
Please keep in mind that even if you pay nothing, it still costs a lot for profile typing. If you aren't eligible, or have the extra funds, consider making a donation to the registry. You may help register someone who saves someone else's life but didn't have the money.

Photo courtesy of Save A Life Network

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June 21, 2009

Still time to register for free or tell someone about the Marrowthon. You can save a life, and you don't even need to leave home to register. Fill in the form online, and a cheek swab kit will be sent directly to your home.

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February 20, 2009

If you are in the Ottawa region on Saturday or know someone who is, Black History Ottawa is hosting an event which will also allow you to do the the first portion of registration as a stem cell donor and/or get your questions answered. If you register, you will get cheek swabs sent to your home in an envelope. Swab the inside of your cheeks according to the instructions and send them back.

You will also be able to meet Angela Christopher, former Montrealer, Grenadian, who has acute myeloid leukemia (AML). You may have seen her appeal on the African Caribbean Leukemia Trust (www.aclt.org) website or read about her experiences in The Spectrum, Frontonfrom, Caribbean Calendar, CHUO-FM: "Black on Black", and "Rockers". Angela is a beautiful woman Emru and I connected with when his appeal first went public and she done a lot to influence how people see patients and give them a voice.

Here's the where and when:

Saturday, February 21
Tropical Showcase (Music, Culture, Health)
Ottawa Public Library Main Branch (Auditorium), 120 Metcalfe Street
1 to 4 p.m.
Free Admission
~ Find this event on Facebook ~

An afternoon of music, culture and fashion from Africa and the Caribbean. Health promotion displays on physical activity, nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Information on risks of disease and injury, sickle cell disorder, cancer, diabetes etc. Take the opportunity to check your blood type. Special performances by SIFA choir, Heru drummers and more. A partnership between Ottawa Public Health, Canadian Blood Services, Sickle Cell Disease Parents’ Support Group, and Black History Ottawa. Information: 613-580-6744 Ext. 23923.

Remember, if you are not white in Canada, you have somewhere between a 10-30% chance of finding an unrelated match. Or YOU could be someone's match. If you don't fall within this statistic, you know someone who does.

If you cannot make it, you can register online with OneMatch.

Stem Cell Awareness and the Black Community
How To Register as a Donor in Canada

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December 1, 2008

People have been asking me about the registration process.

The United States offers the most flexibility when it comes to finding a way to join the registry. You can register online, go to a donor center, or attend a bone marrow drive, one of the most effective methods of educating potential donors. You must be 18-60 to register or donate.

Unlike Canada and the UK, most people will pay to register. However, if you attend a subsidized bone marrow drive, your insurance policy covers registration, or you are in a minority donor pool, you may pay less or nothing. You can register online for free with DKMS every day, or get costs waived if you have a special code with the NMDP.

It's just a cheek swab to register, but you should be informed about the methods of donation, should you ever be one of the select group to match another person. To find out more:

Go to www.marrow.org
> FAQs About Joining
> Myths and Facts About Bone Marrow Donation

If you are a busy person, set aside between 15-30 minutes, and read information on the site. Use a timer so you get back to the other things you need to do.

How to register online in the United States:

1. Determine if you can be a donor.

Check your eligibility. If you are not eligible, you can still get involved by telling other people about the importance of the registry and why it is important.

2. (OPTION A) Go to www.marrow.org (10 to 15 minutes)

Fill in the online consent form and questionnaire to order your buccal swab kit online.

The questionnaire takes this amount of time so you can understand the nature of your commitment and make an informed decision. Also you will be asked some basic medical questions and about your ethnic background.

You should have your credit card ready, unless you have obtained a promo code which will let you register for free. It costs $52 to cover lab typing costs. There are methods to pay less or nothing, especially if you are in a group that is underrepresented. Contact a donor centre for details.

2. (OPTION B) Go to www.dkmsamericas.org

Email info AT dksmsamericas.org to order your buccal swab kit online.

You can register for free through DKMS. Please be advised that someone else (usually a private citizen) will cover what you cannot pay for. So if you can afford to pay some or all of the cost, pay what you can.

3. When you receive the swab kit at home, follow the instructions in the kit. (5 minutes)

The consists of an envelope with instructions, 4 cheek swabs, stickers with a reference ID, and a postage-paid envelope in which to return your samples.

If you are registering via DKMS, you will be sent a registration form that you must include with the kit, and if you can pay for a part of your lab typing, you should include a donation.

4. Send it back. You're done!

It takes about fifteen to twenty working days to get HLA-typed. Keep your address information up to date whenever you move so you can be found if you are ever needed.

You could be contacted in two months, ten years, maybe never. But if you match someone, you may be able to save someone's life by donating 2 to 5% of the stems cells in your circulating blood or bone marrow.

How To Register in Canada
How To Register in Quebec

Stem Cell Awareness - Why is it important to everyone?
Stem Cell Awareness and the Black community
By the Numbers: Still a State of Emergency

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November 26, 2008

People have been asking me about the registration process.

Registration is free in Canada. You must be 18-50 to register, but you can donate up until you are 60.
How to register in Quebec

It's just a cheek swab to register, but you should be informed about the methods of donation, should you ever be one of the select group to match another person. To find out more:

Go to www.onematch.ca
> Learn More
> "Learn" or "Spread the Word"

If you are a busy person, set aside between 15-30 minutes, and read information on the site. Use a timer so you get back to the other things you need to do.

How to register in Canada:

1. Go to www.onematch.ca (10 to 15 minutes)

Fill in the online consent form and questionnaire to order your buccal swab kit online.

The questionnaire takes this amount of time so you can understand the nature of your commitment and make an informed decision. Also you will be asked some basic medical questions to determine if you are eligible.

2. When you receive the swab kit at home, follow the instructions in the kit. (5 minutes)

The consists of an envelope with instructions, 4 cheek swabs, stickers with a reference ID, and a postage-paid envelope in which to return your samples.

3. Send it back. You're done!

It takes about fifteen working days to get HLA-typed. Keep your address information up to date whenever you move so you can be found if you are ever needed.

You could be contacted in two months, ten years, maybe never. But if you match someone, you may be able to save someone's life by donating 2 to 5% of the stems cells in your circulating blood or bone marrow.

How To Register in Quebec
How To Register Online As A Donor In The United States

Stem Cell Awareness - Why is it important to everyone?
Stem Cell Awareness and the Black community
By the Numbers: Still a State of Emergency

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November 3, 2008

The Month of November is National Marrow Awareness Month in the US. Online registration with the NMDP is free.

November 3-9, 2008 is Canadian Stem Cell Awareness Week. Go to the OneMatch site to find out how to Spread The Word.

November 17-23, 2008 is Anthony Nolan Week in the UK. Check the Anthony Nolan Trust media centre for their latest YouTube video.

So let's try and build some awareness: here are 5 important points that you should know about registration and donation.

1. 70% of people requiring a stem cell transplant need an unrelated donor.

The first choice is a family member, but more people will have to rely on a stranger.

2. Register by providing a blood sample in Quebec or the UK, or a cheek swab sample in the rest of Canada or the US.

In the US, UK and most of Canada, you can even fill in your registration online and get a kit sent to your home.

This is a free service in Canada and the UK as well as many other countries. In the US, there are ways to register for free.

3. Donation is safe, fast, and not risky.

You never donate stem cells or bone marrow at risk to your own life. Whatever is donated replenishes itself naturally in the body.

4. There are 2 ways to do it.

70% of people will donate in a process that takes a few hours and is similar to donating blood. For a few days leading up to the extraction process, the donor receives injections to produce additional stem cells in the body.

30% of people will donate by having liquid marrow extracted from within the back of the pelvic bone.

5. Many people cannot find matches.

There are 8 blood types, but for a stem cell match there are several million combinations of possible human leukocyte antigen (HLA) profiles - 150 billion different possibilities in theory.

Even though blood is important, and people who need transplants (in addition to many other people) need donated blood to survive, people with a rare blood type can probably find a match in a room with 100 people of different ethnicity. For someone looking for a stem cell match, they may need a stadium of 20000 or 50 stadiums (or more) to find a match.

Then they have to hope that person is on the registry.

The most likely match within the general population is someone of the same or similar ethnicity.


How To Register in Quebec
How To Register in Canada
How To Register Online in the United States

Stem Cell Awareness and the Black Community

By the Numbers: Still a State of Emergency

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May 5, 2008

If you are not a US resident, this is still important information. Even if you do not live in the US, people who register in the US could save the life of a person anywhere in the world, maybe even where you live. So tell someone about this.

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) has finally included the details of free registration during its Thanks Mom campaign, from May 5 to May 19.

During the event, costs to join the Registry online or at a bone marrow drive are paid for by generous partners and contributors so that it is

Free for the first 46,000 people who join the registry via the NMDP.

This includes the first 10,000 who register for a kit online.

In the US, you get the inside of your cheek swabbed. You get a kit at home or you go to a sponsored NMDP bone marrow drive.

To register online or find the nearest NMDP bone marrow drive, go to www.marrow.org. You can also find a list of some of this week's drives in an earlier post.

THE FACTS:

-70% of the people who need a bone marrow transplant will need an unrelated donor

-Many people will not find their match, so more people are needed

-The most likely match the same or similar ethnicity

-There is a severe shortage of people of African descent on the registries worldwide. It is very hard to match someone who is African Caribbean. There are others who are even harder to find a match for. If you are Chinese, it is very difficult to find a match. There are severe shortage of people of many ethnicities and you may be surprised to find out you are on the list.

-49% of the matches in the US involve an international donor or recipient, including recipients in countries where there are no registries, which includes all of the Caribbean.

-This is a life-saving procedure for the recipient that is low-risk, not time-consuming, and not done at a cost to the donor.

There are a lot of myths surrounding donation. The facts may surprise you. If you want to know more about the two types of donation, watch this video.

As you've seen in the donor stories, we have found, the few people who donated twice, have said they had no problem agreeing to do it again.

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