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Funding critical to help more patients receive life-saving transplants

July 17 2012

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 – will converge in Washington, D.C. on July 18. Their goal: to urge continued Congressional support of Be The Match®, the global leader in providing bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants to patients with life-threatening blood cancers.

In 2010, Congress validated the importance of Be The Match’s work by reauthorizing the C.W. Bill Young Transplantation Program and the National Cord Blood Inventory. But more resources are urgently needed.

Every year, 10,000 patients in this country need a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from someone outside of their family, yet only half receive one. These patients depend on the Be The Match Registry® to find a matched donor. Federal support and funding is critical for Be The Match to continue adding people to the registry and helping patients with uninsured treatment costs and expenses – giving more patients hope for a transplant.

“Over the last 25 years, we have made more than 50,000 transplants possible. But more can, and must, be done,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), which operates
Be The Match. “We are thankful to Congress and our committed partners and volunteers who have allowed us to reach some of these tremendous milestones, including growing the registry to more than 10 million potential donors. Their continued support is vital to our live-saving work.”

Advocates will also encourage the D.C. community to participate in a marrow donor registry drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern in the Longworth Building, as part of African American Bone Marrow Awareness Month. Patients usually find a suitable donor in someone with a similar ethnic background. But just 7 percent of the nation’s 10 million registered potential marrow donors are African American, making it more challenging for this community to find matching donors.

Advocate musician, former Dallas Mavericks basketball player and five-time leukemia survivor Ray Johnston also will share his story at the donor registry drive.