What It’s All About: Leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood, kills more children each year than any other disease. The best chance leukemia patients have of beating this disease is to receive a bone marrow transplant. The biggest challenge? Finding a bone marrow match so the life-saving transplant can happen.
In order to address this challenge, Do Something and Stanford University have teamed up with national bone marrow registry Be the Match. Their goal? To encourage people ages 18-24 (the age of the most-in-need donors) to sign up with the bone marrow registry.
The campaign, which launched in October 2011, is called Give a Spit About Cancer because all it takes to sign up for the registry is to get a cheek swab, which is nothing more than having a few cells from the inside of your cheek collected with a Q-tip-like stick. Once your antigens are collected, you’ll be entered in the registry. If someone in need of a bone marrow transplant needs the same kind of antigens you have, you’ll get a chance to save a life. The only caveat is you have be 18 or over to join the registry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spread the word among your older friends if you don’t make the cutoff yet.
Here are a couple of stats about why campaigns like Give a Spit About Cancer are so important:
- Young people age 18-24 are the bone marrow donors needed most.
- Only 30% of patients needing a marrow transplant can find a match within their family. The rest rely on complete strangers
- Currently, the likelihood of finding a matching donor is 66 to 93 percent, depending on race or ethnicity. Minority donors are most needed.
- Donating marrow isn’t as scary as it sounds — and there are 2 ways to give, one that’s much like giving blood but takes a bit longer.
Want to know more about what it’s like to sign up and actually donate your marrow? Check out this powerful video from Yale college student, Lexy Adams, who shares her experience:
Want more ways to make a difference? Check out our Change the World pages!
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