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Entries in Be the Match (5)

Monday
Aug272012

Robin Roberts’ Journey and How You Can Become a Bone Marrow Donor

ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) -- Robin Roberts announced Monday that Friday, Aug. 31, will be her last day on Good Morning America before she begins an extended medical leave to treat MDS.  Short for myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS is a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow.

As Robin prepares for her bone marrow transplant, her doctor will appear live on GMA this week to discuss her treatment, procedure and recovery process.

Since Robin announced she had MDS in June, Be the Match, an organization that helps match marrow donors to recipients and works to encourage others to volunteer, has received tremendous support.

But many people still don’t know how easy and rewarding it is to become a bone marrow donor, Be the Match CEO Dr. Jeffrey Chell explained.

“This is truly an amazing gift,” not only for the recipient but to the donor, Chell said. “Donors say their lives have been transformed by this altruistic act. They think of themselves differently. Their family thinks of them differently. How many people can say they’ve saved someone’s life?”

Seventy percent of patients don’t have matching donors in their families and need to find an unrelated adult donor, or cells from donated umbilical cord blood, according to Be the Match. The program has more than 9.5 million potential donors and nearly 165,000 available cord blood units.

“This is a need for more donors,” Chell said. “The type of matching we do is very complex and precise. … It’s so important that people join the registry [and] be committed to being on that registry.”

To join, a person needs to be between the ages of 18 and 60, willing to donate and meet health guidelines. To register, a health history form needs to be filled out and a swab of cheek cells needs to be performed. To find out more about donating and sign up for a registration kit from the Be the Match Registry, click here.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug222012

Cancer Survivor Meets Her Bone Marrow Donor for First Time on "GMA"

ABC (NEW YORK) -- Erika Turner's life as a happily married mother of two came to a screeching halt when her doctors told her she had leukemia.

"I looked at him and I said, 'Cancer of the blood?' and he said, 'Correct,'" Turner said.

Her condition worsened.  Dr. Miguel Islas-Ohlmayer of The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health Blood and Marrow Transplant Center in Cincinnati, where Turner was being treated, said the leukemia was aggressive. Even with chemotherapy and radiation, the Cincinnati woman, 42, would need a bone marrow transplant.

Despite her dire circumstances, Turner was an inspiration to her medical team.

"She was filled with hope," said Karen Sovern, a bone marrow nurse who cared for Turner. "She was filled with joy. She was filled with love, and it helped carry everybody who was taking care of her through."

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Turner's situation meant she had a tough battle, and it would be even harder for her because she is African-American. For African-Americans and other people of color, it's harder to find a bone marrow match.

"The likelihood of finding an African-American patient a donor is 60 percent," Islas said. "[It's] a little bit higher for Hispanics, it's about 70 percent, and for Caucasians it's in the realm of 90 percent."

Turner waited for weeks, and she got worse. Then, she got the news that changed her life: A perfect match had been found.

"It was a male and he was a senior in college, and that's all I knew," she said, speaking of her donor.

But when the time came to make the final preparations for her transplant, Turner was about to give up.

"I was burned out. I was tired, I didn't want to go.  I fussed, I fought, I screamed. My husband said, 'Get back in bed, we'll just watch you die,'" she said. "I jumped up. I said, 'I'm going to die. Ha! I'm going to show you.'"

The transplant worked, and soon Turner was in remission. But her journey wasn't complete. She hadn't met her donor.

"I've never seen him.  I've never heard his voice," she said, "but I'm just so excited to look into his eyes, to look into his soul, and tell him, 'Thank you.'"

"I just want him to know he is my hero," she said.

Turner got the chance to meet her donor, Christopher Magoon, for the first time Thursday on Good Morning America.

"Christopher, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart with my whole soul and my whole being," Turner said.  "Thank you for giving me back to my parents.  Thank you for giving me back to my kids and to my husband.  I love you and there's nothing in this world that I would not do for you because you did it for me. I love you. I love you."

Magoon was a student at Yale University when he joined the Be The Match Registry® to see whether he was a match for Mandi Schwartz, a fellow student and hockey player at Yale.  Magoon was not a match and Schwartz later died. But one year after having his cheek swabbed, Magoon got the call that he was a match for Turner.

"I'd do it again in a second," he said of being a donor.  "It's really not that painful of a procedure. That's one of the huge myths.  Trust me, it's really not that bad.  It's like getting your wisdom teeth out. You're under. You wake up. People take care of you because they know you're doing a good thing."

Turner was overcome with emotion thanking Magoon for what he did.

"This young man, he didn't know me from a can of paint. He didn't know me. He was so willing," she said.  "I just can't find the words. He was just so willing to give his life so that I can find mine."

Magoon, who had communicated with Turner via email and Facebook while he was overseas in China teaching English, told Turner that he had the easy part of the transplant equation.

"You're the one who fought for your family," he said.  "I was asleep for the whole thing. I got to watch TV for two days.  You're the one who was sick and always believed that you were going to get better. You did, and now you can provide hope for people in similar situations across the country."

Signing up for the registry is the most important thing anyone can do, Magoon said.

"Even if you don't know anyone who is sick, you might later down the line," he said.  "Get on the registry.  Go to Bethematch.com and get the cheek swab. It's a simple procedure to get on the registry.  That's the first step."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

ABC News Employees Join 'Be the Match' Bone Marrow Registry

ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) -- ABC News employees are joining the world's largest marrow donor registry, potentially saving the lives of people awaiting a bone marrow transplant. The employees participated Tuesday in a Be the Match registry drive, following Good Morning America's Robin Robert's announcement several weeks ago that she had been diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder called MDS, Myelodysplastic Syndrome. It was a special day for Roberts, who was there as ABC employees lined up to become donors.

A simple mouth swab begins the process that could lead to a bone marrow donation.  

Be the Match CEO Dr. Jeffrey Chell says a bone-marrow donation simply involves drawing blood from your arm 80 percent of the time.

"It just takes about six hours," Dr. Chell says, adding that donating marrow does not require donors to be hospitalized. "You can go home. You feel perfectly normal the next day."

Chell says, "about 20 percent of the time, people still donate in the old-fashioned way, and that's through a bone-marrow incision. Under those circumstances, we put people to sleep, lie them on their stomach, make a small incision on their hip bone."

But he insists that even those donors who must undergo the more invasive procedure say that, "it was no big deal and they would be happy to donate again if there is someone in need."

Since Roberts' announcement, 11,200 people have registered -- and that number is growing.
 
"Our donors tell us that [sic] causes just a minor inconvenience and a minor discomfort," Chell says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Be the Match Registry Gains Support After Robin Roberts Diagnosis

Be The Match(NEW YORK) -- ABC News’ Robin Roberts announced Monday that she’d been diagnosed with MDS, short for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow.  Now, it appears that Roberts may have inspired thousands to act in support of Be the Match, an organization that helps match marrow donors to recipients and encourages others to volunteer.

In a letter to viewers, Roberts, also a breast cancer survivor, said that organ donors were vitally important. Despite this need, many people don’t know they can be bone marrow donors or how easy it is to become one.

In the last 24 hours, Be the Match Registry has received tremendous support, with more than 3,600 people signing up to be potential marrow donors.  On an average day, the organization says it sees 200 to 300 people register.  However the need for people to sign up, as well as donate funds so that Be the Match can continue to offer free testing, remains great.

According to Be The Match, more than 10,000 U.S. patients every year are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO of Be the Match, said blood cancer cases were increasing in the U.S. because successful cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, sometimes do irreparable damage to the bone marrow.

Unfortunately, because 70 percent of patients don’t have matching donors in their families, they’ll need an unrelated adult donor, or cells from donated umbilical cord blood, Be the Match says.

The program has more than 9.5 million potential donors and nearly 165,000 available cord blood units.

“This is a need for more donors,” Chell said. ” The type of matching we do is very complex and precise.  ....It’s so important that people join the registry [and] be committed to being on that registry.”

To join, a person needs to be between the ages of 18 and 60, willing to donate and meet health guidelines. To register, a health history form needs to be filled out and a swab of cheek cells needs to be performed.

To find out more about donating and sign up for a registration kit from the Be the Match Registry, click here.

“This is truly an amazing gift,” not only for the recipient but to the donor, Chell said. “Donors say their lives have been transformed by this altruistic act. They think of themselves differently. Their family thinks of them differently. How many people can say they’ve saved someone’s life?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

Robin Roberts’ Illness: Be the Match Urges More to Donate Bone Marrow

Be The Match Registry(NEW YORK) -- ABC News’ Robin Roberts announced Monday that she’d been diagnosed with MDS, short for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow.

In a letter to viewers, Roberts, also a breast cancer survivor, said that organ donors were vitally important. Despite this need, many people don’t know they can be bone marrow donors or how easy it is to become one.

According to Be the Match -- an organization that helps match marrow donors to recipients, and encourage others to volunteer -- more than 10,000 U.S. patients every year are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.

Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO of Be the Match, said blood cancer cases were increasing in the U.S. because successful cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, sometimes do irreparable damage to the bone marrow.

Unfortunately, because 70 percent of patients don’t have matching donors in their families, they’ll need an unrelated adult donor, or cells from donated umbilical cord blood, Be the Match says.

The program has more than 9.5 million potential donors and nearly 165,000 available cord blood units.

“This is a need for more donors,” Chell said. "The type of matching we do is very complex and precise.  … It’s so important that people join the registry [and] be committed to being on that registry.”

To join, a person needs to be between the ages of 18 and 60, willing to donate and meet health guidelines. To register, a health history form needs to be filled out and a swab of cheek cells needs to be performed.

To find out more about donating and sign up for a registration kit from the Be the Match Registry, click here.

“This is truly an amazing gift,” not only for the recipient but to the donor, Chell said. “Donors say their lives have been transformed by this altruistic act. They think of themselves differently. Their family thinks of them differently. How many people can say they’ve saved someone’s life?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio