Does it hurt? Why should I donate?
Becoming a donor is completing a registration form and putting four cotton swabs in your mouth. Registration is painless.
In terms of the actual donation, the short answer is: it depends. Ideas like comfort and pain tolerance are difficult to quantify/forecast, especially when it comes to medical procedures. It’s similar to asking someone, “does getting your wisdom teeth pulled hurt?” I know some people who had swollen gums for a week and I had a friend in high school who had his teeth pulled in the morning and was eating cafeteria pizza by lunch. This isn’t an attempt to avoid the question, but to address it realistically. Potential contributing factors include the specifics of the procedure and the physical condition of your body (are you well rested/hydrated/etc.).
It’s important to us that we convey exactly what you’re committing to, expectations, processes and risks included. Click here to learn more about PBSC and marrow donation.
While there is a very small (less than 2%) possibility of complications due to the procedure or the anesthesia used, we at Cheekswab believe it’s important to highlight two things:
- You receive a comprehensive health screening, at a licensed and experienced medical facility, before any and all procedures. These typically include a physical examination and blood work. It is not in the best interests of Be The Match to expose donors to dangerous circumstances given both liability concerns and future recruitment efforts. If at any point you or the doctors see signs that donating may not be a good idea, the donation is called off.
- The prospective discomfort of a marrow donation, which generally peaks at a day or two of lower-back soreness, pales in comparison to the gift of life you’re potentially giving to someone who has exhausted all other options. We say “potentially” because a patient’s body does not always physically accept a matched donation. In the case when the donation is accepted, the most important thing to remember is that not only is the life of the patient forever changed, but the lives of all those who love and care for that person are also changed.
Everybody is the most important in the world to somebody.
Wait – what is bone marrow exactly?
An introduction to bone marrow and bone marrow transplants.
If I get called to donate, what does it cost me?
Time, potential physical discomfort, and time off work.
All other costs are covered by Be The Match, including transportation to/from medical consultations, lodging, and medical bills. A donor having or not having health insurance has no bearing on the process of donating marrow, as costs are covered by BTM.
What are the chances I’m a match?
From the BeTheMatch website: Doctors choose donors based on what is best for the patient. About 1 in 540 members of the Be The Match Registry in the United States will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to a patient. We cannot predict the likelihood that an individual member will donate because there is so much diversity of tissue types in the population. However, doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group 90 percent of the time. That’s because research shows cells from younger donors lead to more successful transplants.
Every person who joins the registry gives patients hope, and new patient searches begin every day. You may never be identified as a match for someone, or you might be one of a number of potential matches. But you may also be the only one on the registry who can save a particular patient’s life.
Can I change my mind?
Absolutely. Being on the registry is completely voluntary.
However, we ask that you do not join until you understand and agree with the commitment to avoid the likelihood of false-positive matches. Some statistics say that less than 50% of minority matches within the registry go on to complete the donation. This is due to a variety of potential reasons: unavailability, medical conditions or an unwillingness to donate. Please only join the registry under the assumption that you will complete the procedure. Bone marrow transplants are a life and death procedure for the person on the other end of the registry and BTM cannot afford to spend time and energy on false-positives.
What happens if I am a match / How long does the donation process take / How is a match determined / Where would the donation take place?
Read more about the matching process.
Can I meet the patient I donate to?
Upon a successful transplant, donors can meet recipients pending mutual agreement and a one year waiting period from the transplant date.
I think I registered a long time ago. Do I need to register again? How do I check?
Once you have registered to be on the bone marrow registry you do not have to register again. To check your registration status, please call 1-800-MARROW-2 (1-800-827-7692).