In 2011 I was lucky enough to travel to New York City with the Curvy Girl Guide and Lands’ End to promote the very first Swimsuit Confidence Week. It was an amazing week that culminated with standing in Times Square in my swimsuit behind the hosts of Good Morning America, who were kind and gracious to the crazy ladies parading around in swim wear. Perhaps this is why I was crushed to hear that Robin Roberts, GMA host extraordinaire, is battling a rare bone-marrow disorder just five years after battling breast cancer. Although her diagnosis of myelodyplastic syndromes sounds grim she remains upbeat and is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant later this year. Shockingly, her diagnosis is just one of dozens of diseases including numerous childhood cancers that require (or might require) a bone marrow transplant as part of treatment.
What Robin was quick to point out is that bone marrow donors are lacking across the world, especially for African Americans. In fact, numerous ethnicities and backgrounds are grossly under-represented in the bone marrow registry including American Indians, Alaska Native Asians, (including South Asian), Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and Latinos, and multiple race individuals. That isn’t to insinuate that the donor pool is crowded for other racial backgrounds, but simply highlights communities that are even more under represented than some. But how do you become a donor? The answer is easier than you think.
- First you have to join the donor registry. There is often a $100 fee associated with this, but you can find donor drives in your community that are free. Joining the registry is as simple as filling out paperwork and submitting a swab of your cheek- no blood draws, no drilling, just a quick and painless swab. Voila, you are in the registry!
- You will be listed on the registry until your 61st birthday (unless you request removal) and you might be contacted at any point in time (by the registry) if you are a match to a searching patient. One in every 540 registrants will donate over their lifetime. Donors aged 18-44 are the most highly sought after.
- Just because you are match doesn’t mean you will become the donor (further tests are needed) but at that point your travel and medical expenses are covered by the registry and the patient’s insurance.
- Donating is a simple, minimally invasive surgical procedure with a quick recovery time and should not affect your future health. Bonus: you get to play the critical role in saving a life.
For more information you can visit Be the Match, where you find resources and information about being a bone marrow donor, attending a donor drive, donating money to cover registration costs, medical guidelines for donees and statistics on being a bone marrow donor. Most of all we wish Robin the best of luck with her diagnosis and treatment.
Daisy is a lawyer married to a lawyer (insert lawyer jokes here) living in a small condo in a big city with a new baby and beagle. She breaks up the legal-speak by blogging about life in Chicago, which is filled with escapades of urban living. In the summer she enjoys patio dining and in the winter wonders what she was thinking when she moved here. You can read more from Daisy on her blog, Just Daisy.