July 18 Legislative Day event aimed at delivering more cures to patients in need.
- People from across the country whose lives have been impacted by bone marrow donation – whether they have received a transplant or donated bone marrow to a stranger – are meeting in Washington, D.C. tomorrow to ask for continued Congressional support and funding of Be The Match.
July 16 2013
Seven-year-old Owen Jensen is going to Capitol Hill to recount how a young Minnesota woman cured him of leukemia. Kim Christensen, 20, will be there with her bone marrow donor, Jeff Haertling, whom she met after he saved her life. Yale University football player John Oppenheimer will join them to tell his own story—that he chose to donate bone marrow not once, but twice, to help save the life of a man he’s never met.
On July 18, together with other bone marrow advocates, these three will carry an urgent message to Congress: The national nonprofit Be The Match® critically needs continued federal funding to help more Americans survive life-threatening blood cancers and other diseases. The advocates will meet with lawmakers on behalf of Be The Match to reinforce the importance of the program and how their lives have been impacted by bone marrow donation—whether they have received a life-saving transplant or donated bone marrow to a stranger.
Be The Match, which connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant, relies on federal funds to grow the nation’s ranks of volunteer bone marrow donors, as well as to increase the inventory of umbilical cord blood units, which contain the same blood-forming cells as bone marrow. But under sequestration, the program stands to be cut by approximately $3 million. This means that as many as 20,000 willing volunteers and 1,000 cord blood units may not be added to the national registry.
While funding for the program has been modest compared to other federal funding, these dollars mean the difference between life and death for many Americans with life-threatening blood and marrow cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases.
“Congress continues to respond to this critical need, helping us grow the registry to more than 10.5 million people. We’ve facilitated more than 55,000 transplants and conducted research that has helped increase transplant survival rates significantly,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of Be The Match. “But there is still more work to do, and continued funding is vital to maintaining the unprecedented life-saving momentum we’ve gained over the past 26 years.”
In addition to meeting with lawmakers to share their powerful stories, advocates will encourage the D.C. community to join the Be The Match Registry® as potential bone marrow donors at a drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 18 at the Hart Senate Office Building, room SH-124 (in the first floor hallway between the Hart and Dirksen buildings). To join, people need to meet age and health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. People of diverse heritages who are between the ages of 18 and 44 are most urgently needed. Registration involves completing a health history form and giving a swab of cheek cells.
Visit www.BeTheMatch.org/Advocacy to learn more and get involved.
About Be The Match
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.