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Entries in Donors (5)

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

Thursday
Apr262012

One Kidney, Three Bodies: After Failed Transplant, Kidney Gives New Life 

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- In a medical first, a transplanted kidney rejected by one patient was successfully transplanted into another patient, according to doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Twelve years ago, Ray Fearing, 27, of Arlington Heights, Ill., was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease characterized by the buildup of scar tissue on the kidney. Most often found in young adults, the disease prevents harmful chemicals in the blood from filtering through the kidney.

When his disease worsened in April 2011, he was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list. His wait would not be long, just two months, after his younger sister, Cera, 21, stepped up right away to try to save her big brother.

"Before I even asked her she was ready to volunteer" her kidney, Ray Fearing said.

"It was very exciting," he said. "I'd been looking forward to it for a long time."

During routine kidney transplants, the new organ that is placed in the recipient rarely shows signs of recurring disease. But in patients with FSGS, there is a 50-percent chance that the transplanted kidney will also develop the disease.

Fearing was on the wrong side of those odds. Within two weeks of the transplant, surgeons removed his new kidney.

"I was making all these plans for the future because I would have a new kidney," said Fearing. "I was distraught and very wounded by the whole experience."

But instead of discarding the kidney -- which is routine in the event of a failed transplant -- Northwestern Memorial Hospital surgeons, with Cera Fearing's consent, decided to give the kidney another chance.

For the first time, doctors successfully re-implanted the so-called damaged kidney in another patient. Once the kidney was removed from Ray Fearing, it began to show signs of recovery from damage caused by its short-lived exposure to FSGS.

Within a few weeks, the kidney restored itself and was fully functioning in the new recipient, 67-year-old surgeon and father of five, Erwin Gomez.

"We proved for the first time that the disease is reversible in an organ once it's taken out of the body," said Dr. Lorenzo Collon, a transplant nephrologist and medical director of the kidney transplant program Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

This procedure challenges the idea that surgeons can only attempt to transplant an organ once, said Collon, whose findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Instead of removing the organ and throwing it away, if you have a good surgical background to reconstruct the vessels, you can put the kidney in someone else and it can work," said Collon.

More than 92,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, and nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the list each month, according to the National Kidney Foundation. In 2011, nearly 17,000 Americans underwent a kidney transplant.

Although transplants take place when a match is found between a donor and recipient, in some cases -- as in Fearing's -- there's still a chance the transplant may not be successful, Collon said. But recycling the transplanted kidney will give more recipients a shot within an already-limited donor pool, he said.

"It will increase the donor pool, which needs to be increased anyhow," said Collon.

Fearing was put back on dialysis and will have to wait at least a year before another transplant attempt can be made.

"I'm excited to be a part of this, even though it didn't work for me," said Fearing.

The road ahead for Fearing is complicated by the fact that the chance of his disease damaging another new kidney is even higher than 50 percent, Still, Fearing says he remains optimistic.

"I'm convinced that I should be hopeful," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Florida Girl with Sickle Cell Disease Suffers Third Stroke at Age 7

BananaStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Alejandra Melgar is just 7 years old, but because of serious health problems, she can't lead a normal life full of fun, friends and schoolwork.

Alejandra's immunity is severely compromised because she had a bone-marrow transplant in July. The little girl from Homestead, Fla., suffers from severe sickle cell disease, a genetic condition that causes the blood cells to assume a sickle shape. Because of the shape, the cells can block blood flow and ultimately cause organ damage and strokes.

Throughout her short lifetime, Alejandra has suffered through three strokes. The third one, in October, left her with weakness on her right side and an inability to speak.

"When she was four-and-a-half years old and I was pregnant with my son, she had the second stroke," said Lilian Melgar, Alejandra's mother. "We didn't even know she had the first one, because there were no symptoms or consequences. And the third one was much worse than the second."

Her battle with sickle cell disease led to weekly blood transfusions. But after her most recent stroke, doctors told her mother she needed a bone-marrow transplant. Bone-marrow transplants are generally used to treat only the most severe cases of sickle cell anemia.

Alejandra would have to wait months to find a suitable donor. Her 3-year-old brother, Alejandro, couldn't be a donor because he also has sickle cell disease.

Her prayers were finally answered this summer, and Alejandra underwent a transplant in July at Holtz Children's Hospital Miami.

"Alejandra is recovering well. She's doing very well," Melgar said.

But she's still a long way from living a life similar to other children her age. The bone-marrow transplant left her immunity compromised, so she has to wait almost a full year before returning to school, and can't play with friends.

Alejandra receives physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy at home. Right now, the only word she can say is "Mama."

Bone-marrow transplants typically involve destroying all the body's bone marrow and replacing it with donor marrow. This is still one of the mainstays for treating leukemia.

There are often complications with this kind of procedure, because the risk of infection is high and there can be powerful side effects of the chemotherapy or radiation used to destroy the bone marrow. But about four or five years ago, new protocols were developed that don't require the eradication of all a patient's bone marrow.

"The new protocols tried to take advantage of the fact that for sickle cell disease, you don't have to replace all the cells with donor cells," said Dr. Martin Andreansky, director, pediatric blood and marrow transplant program at the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center.

As a result, there is less chemotherapy and fewer toxic side effects.

Trials with this modified procedure have yet to be evaluated, but so far, they seem to work.

But so far, Alejandra is doing well. With luck, Alejandra will no longer have sickle cell disease. She will still carry the trait for it, but these people, said Andreansky, can lead normal lives.

Melgar also has another tough battle to fight. While Alejandro hasn't suffered a stroke, he is starting to have complications related to his sickle cell disease and also needs a transplant.

The Melgars, who are Latino, are having trouble finding a matched donor because there are so few donors of color.

"The problem with minorities is they are severely underrepresented in bone-marrow registries," Andreansky said.

Melgar said she's grateful her daughter found a donor, and she desperately hopes she can find one for her son.

"I want to let people know about this. People, especially kids, need bone marrow," she said. "They can save a lot of lives."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec272010

New York Blood Center Seeks Blood Donors after 1,000 Blood Donations Lost from Blizzard

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 1,000 blood donations were lost due to weather-related cancellations prompting the New York Blood Center, which serves more than 20 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey, to request that communities donate blood and platelets.

O-negative and O-positive blood types are needed most, but all blood types are encouraged to donate.

"Mother Nature has delivered a hard slap to our blood supply," NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis.  "And the blizzard came on top of lower-than-needed holiday collections, so we're urging our neighbors to step up."

Eligible blood donors were asked to donate Monday and in the coming days, but should visit the New York Blood Center website before leaving home for information about cancellations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio