I realize it is now no longer Marrow Awareness Month, but I feel that one should be aware of his or her marrow each and every month. Don't you?
I now know of two couples who have joined the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, and in both cases, the process was very easy and, more important, FREE. This note is from my sister and her husband:
"It's so easy! T.J. and I just today started the process to become bone marrow donors. When I looked up the nearest bone marrow center, it was about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live, and I thought we'd need to travel there to have the necessary blood work done. But I called today and a very nice nurse said all we needed to do was print out a form from the internet and send it in. Then in a few weeks she'll send us a swab kit to get our DNA. She said they don't even need to draw blood any more. Its all paid for and free! So what are you (everyone else) waiting for? Apparently there is a 1 in 200 chance that you will be chosen, and if you are, it isn't a major commitment... just a few days to help someone out."
And this comes from my friend Elizabeth:
"Hi Everyone. I am one of Karen's friends from college and she and Jay are godparents to our second son. I just wanted to let everyone out there know how easy it is to become a bone marrow donor. It's something I had wanted to do for a long time, but the process seemed too confusing, or I was too lazy, but I kept putting it off.
About six months ago there was a national drive to get more bone marrow donors and a grant was provided to pay the tissue typing fee (that, as far as I know, is still $52). My husband and I participated in the drive here in Omaha. We had to read about what would be asked of us if we were asked to donate, fill out a short medical history (mostly questions regarding our lifestyle and health history that might affect our blood) and swab several parts of our mouth with a cotton swab (we even did it ourselves)). Then we were done. The whole thing took less than ten minutes.
A few weeks later we got information in the mail welcoming us to the registry. Now, it is our responsibility to keep in touch with them in case we move or develop certain health conditions (for instance, I'm currently pregnant and, therefore, not eligible to donate, so they took me off the list until I'm able again), and we just wait for the call that we might be a match and able to help someone. It used to be that you had to find a donation site, but now you can do the whole thing via mail. Just log on to http://www.marrow.org and click on "join now."
While I was signing up, a mother and father came in with their toddler daughter who was waiting for a match. They had, of course, already been tested for their daughter, but were there to join the national registry. Seeing that little girl was very touching and made me realize what a great decision I had made to take an hour out of my day to become part of such a great registry. Imagine who you might be able to help."
In both of these cases, signing up was free. I know that there CAN be a pretty hefty charge in some cases, though. For example, if you register online, you will have to pay $52. However, if you register in person or by phone, there is a chance that this fee will be reduced or eliminated, based on the donation center. I just invite you all to check it out and learn more about how it works. Click on the link in this entry or at the right and read more about it. If you end up signing up, be sure to let me know!