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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 23, 2010

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
609-984-7160


 
Help Save a Life: Join the Be The Match Registry® and Become a Bone Marrow Donor


 

          You can save the life of a person with cancer, sickle cell anemia, or other life-threatening disorder by becoming a bone marrow donor, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh said today.  You can learn how to help by visiting the Department of Health and Senior Services web site at: www.nj.gov/health/bonemarrow.

 

          “Bone marrow transplants offer life-saving treatment, but there continues to be a critical need for more donors,” said Governor Chris Christie. “By visiting the Health and Senior Services web site, the public can learn more about the donation process and how to sign up with the nationwide Be The Match Registry®.”

 

          “Only 30 percent of people who need a transplant can find a suitable donor among their family members,” said Commissioner Alaigh.  “I encourage everyone to consider becoming a donor, especially people from minority and multicultural communities.  A diverse pool of donors increases the chances that patients from all racial and ethnic groups can be successfully treated.”

 

The Department of Health and Senior Services today posted on its web site a new brochure to raise awareness and encourage more people to become bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell donors.   Physicians are encouraged to download the brochure and use it to educate patients about the option of becoming a donor.

 

A law signed by Governor Christie on August 25, 2010 required the Department to develop an educational brochure.  The law is known as “Jaden’s Law,” in honor of Jaden Hilton, a three-year-old boy who died of leukemia after a suitable donor match could not be found for him.

 

Donated bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cells are used in treating people with leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other cancers, as well as other diseases such as sickle cell anemia and other immune system and genetic disorders.

 

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer destroy a person’s diseased bone marrow.  Healthy bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells – a type of cell that can make all of the body’s blood cells – can be infused into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply.

 

A national registry – the Be The Match Registry® -- contains the names of millions of registered donors.  However, there are still not enough matched donors for all who need a transplant, especially those from racially and ethnically diverse communities.  The best chance of finding a match is from a person in your own racial or ethnic group. 

 

To become a donor, join the Be The Match Registry® .  Doctors search this registry to find a suitable donor match for their patients.  A “match” occurs when the donor and recipient have a similar tissue type, which relates to specific proteins on the surface of most of the cells in a person’s body.  A match is needed for the treatment to be most effective.  To join the registry, you must be between the ages of 18 and 60, meet health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need.

 

There are two ways to donate.  The most common is to donate blood stem cells, which is a nonsurgical procedure.  Or bone marrow donation can be performed as an outpatient surgical procedure.  Recovery times vary, but most donors can return to their normal activities in one to seven days.

 

For more information, visit the DHSS page on bone marrow and blood stem cell donation at www.nj.gov/health/bonemarrow.   To join the registry, visit the National Marrow Donor Program’s web site at www.marrow.org, or call 1-(800)-MARROW2, or 1-800-627-7692 for more information.

 

Once you register, you will be sent a kit so you can collect a swab of your check cells.  The Registry will use this to determine your tissue type and then use that information to match you to patients. 

 

Today, as DHSS launches this awareness effort to encourage bone marrow donation, we are giving hope and potentially saving the lives of those awaiting a match.  Please consider becoming a donor.  You could Be The Match®  who helps save someone’s life.  

 

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