Every day, thousands of patients are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like Leukemia, Lymphoma and Sickle Cell. Many patients hope for a marrow donor who can make their transplant possible.
Thor is an energetic 7 year old. He hopes to be a hurricane hunter when he grows up. Thor also has Sickle Cell, a blood disorder that causes the red blood cells to become misshapen and block their flow which causes severe pain and ultimately can cause silent strokes or death. Thor has already received 29 blood transfusions in his short life. A bone marrow transplant is his best hope for a cure. Follow this link to learn more about Thor: Youtube.com/watch?v=OWlF9iGoIoo
The Rotary Club of New Bern heard about Thor’s need for a matching donor when a fellow Rotarian, Charlie Bedgood of Wilson and Thor’s mom, Tameka Forte spoke at a Rotary meeting in August. Charlie shared his personal experience of donating to a patient, and Tameka introduced Thor’s plight to the Rotary members. These stories resonated with the members and they adopted Be The Match marrow registry as their mission to raise awareness and add new members to the registry over the two days of MumFest in New Bern in October 2017.
Walter Kerner, a Rotary member took on the task of organizing the event. Walter dedicated many hours to ensuring the booth looked sharp – The Rotary logo on the tent made the location highly visible and professional. Walter and Rotary gained strong publicity coverage from area TV stations, radio and print media. All day, people were coming to MumFest specifically to join the registry and help a patient find their match.
Members from the Rotary club gave hours and hours of volunteer time to man and booth. But, they didn’t just “man” the booth – they were actively engaging the crowd and did a fantastic job by promoting this life-saving mission. Each day, over 100 people were swabbed. 219 people overall added as new possible donors through the dedicated efforts of the Rotary Club of New Bern.
Many Craven County neighbors and friends need a matching donor who can make their transplant possible. Because tissue typing is inherited, patients are more likely to match someone of their own ancestral background. Patients need a matching tissue type which is different from a matching blood type.
Only about 30% of patients can find a suitably matched donor among their family members. The remaining 70% require an unrelated donor who can make their transplant possible. Because the odds that two random individuals are HLA matched exceeds one in 20,000, a registry’s success depends on a large number of volunteer donors.
The dedicated support of the Rotary Club of New Bern will help many more patients find a matching donor who can make their life-saving transplant possible.
Submitted by: Betsie Letterle, Be The Match Marrow Registry