Be The Match registry seeking blood and bone marrow donors

A blood and marrow transplant replaces abnormal blood-forming stem cells with healthy cells. These are commonly used to treat blood cancers or other kinds of blood diseases that decrease the number of healthy blood cells in the body.

Dr. Stephanie Williams, specialist in blood and marrow transplant and Lindsay Syswerda, event coordinator talk about blood and marrow transplants, and some upcoming events around the topic.

People who receive a blood and marrow transplants are patients with life-threatening blood cancers, diseases that cause bone marrow failure, and other immune system or genetic diseases

However in order for transplants to take place, cells need to be donated from someone else. Transplants can be donated by either an adult donor, a cord blood unit, or a patient can use their own blood-forming cells.

Spectrum Health works closely with a registry for blood and bone marrow donors called Be The Match, which connects patients searching for a cure and life-saving bone marrow donors. As the largest and most diverse marrow registry, it helps patients get the transplant they need.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 44 can join the registry, but there are guidelines that are in place to protect potential donors. When there's a possible match for a patient, Be The Match discusses the donor's health history and arranges a thorough physical exam.

If potential donors don't meet the medical requirements to join, there are other ways to help contribute to a cure.

One of the ways people can help with the cause is to join Spectrum Health and the Grand Rapids Griffins in their "Road to Recovery," which celebrates patients, families, and their healthcare team's journey at the Griffin's next home game. On March 31, at the Griffin's next home game, they'll be raising awareness for blood cancers and hope to educate others of the importance to join the Be The Match registry.

To learn more about Be The Match, visit BetheMatch.org and use the codeĀ SHGRG.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and would like a second opinion or consultation, call 1.855.SHCANCER (855.742.2623).

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