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We've Saved Lives

Swab your cheek. Run a drive. Save a life.

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What is a Give A Spit About Cancer drive?

Give A Spit About Cancer is a campaign run by DoSomething.org in partnership with Be The Match. We're asking young people to run cheek swab drives on their college campuses or in their communities to increase the number of potential donors on the National Registry. Once a person swabs their cheek at a drive, and sends in the health consent form, they will be added to the registry and can possibly be DNA matched to a leukemia or lymphoma patient in need. The potential donor is called and asked if they want to donate and has the chance to agree, defer, or deny donation.
In order to get involved, just sign up to run or support a drive in your community.

What is a bone marrow transplant?

Bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases. First, patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor's healthy blood-forming cells are given directly into the patient's bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply.

For a patient's body to accept these healthy cells, the patient needs a donor who is a close match. Seventy percent of patients do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry to find an unrelated donor.

How do I become a donor?

The first step to become a bone marrow donor is to join the Be The Match Registry. Give A Spit can help you do that! Doctors around the world search our registry to find a match for their patients. If a doctor selects you as a match for a patient, you may be asked to donate bone marrow or cells from circulating blood (called PBSC donation).

What does it mean to register?

Taken from BTM - When you join the Be The Match Registry, you make a commitment to:

  • Be listed on the registry until your 61st birthday, unless you ask to be removed
  • Consider donating to any searching patient who matches you
  • Keep us updated if your address changes, you have significant health changes or you change your mind about being a donor
  • Respond quickly if you are contacted as a potential match for a patient
  • You have the right to change your mind about being a donor at any time. Donating is always voluntary.
  • If you decide you do not want to donate, let us know right away. That way we can continue the search for another donor without dangerous delays for the patient.

How old do I have to be to register?

You have to be between 18 - 60 years old to register, but the most needed donors are between 18 - 24 years old.

Taken from BTM - An individual must be 18 to donate because donation is a medical (for PBSC donation) or surgical (for marrow donation) procedure and the person undergoing the procedure must legally be able to give informed consent. A guardian or parent cannot sign a release or give consent for someone under age 18, because unrelated marrow donation is a voluntary procedure and is not directly beneficial or life-saving to

What are the chances that I'll be called?

BTM - On average, one in every 540 members of Be The Match Registry in the United States will go on to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells to a patient. You cannot predict the likelihood that an individual member will donate because there is so much diversity in the population. However, if you are between the ages of 18 and 44, you are 10 times more likely to be called as a marrow donor than other members of the Be The Match Registry. 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.

What happens if I agree to donate?

    Adult donors may be asked to donate in one of two ways:

  1. Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm.
  2. Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some pain in their lower back for a few days afterwards.

Is it painful to donate?

Peripheral blood cell donation involves no pain. Bone marrow donors receive anesthesia and feel no pain during the procedure. Most bone marrow donors feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days following donation.

How long does donating take?

BTM - Becoming a donor requires a time commitment. Before you donate, there are several steps to make sure you are the best donor for the patient. These steps include an information session to provide resources to help you make your decision, as well as appointments for additional blood tests and a physical exam. The time needed for the actual donation depends on the donation procedure.

On average, the entire process can take 30 to 40 hours, including travel time, over 4 to 6 weeks. Marrow and PBSC donation require about the same total time commitment.

Is it dangerous?

There are rarely any long-term side effects. Be The Match carefully prescreens all donors to ensure they are healthy and the procedure is safe for them. They also provide support and information every step of the way.

Because only five percent or less of a donor's marrow is needed to save the patient's life, the donor's immune system stays strong and the cells replace themselves within four to six weeks.

Does it cost anything?

If you register to be a donor or choose to run a Give A Spit drive, it costs nothing. Just like the rest of the DoSomething.org campaigns

How do I run a drive?

Sign up to run a drive on your college campus and check out our Action Guide for tips on how to run your drive!

How do I use the registration kit to collect a cheek cell sample?

When you join the registry, you will use the registration kit to give a swab of cheek cells. Be The Match will tissue type the sample you provide and use the results to match you to patients. If you join in person at a donor registry drive, the Be The Match representatives can explain how to use the swab kit. If there is no Be The Match representative at your drive, instructions are included in your kit.

Why does a person have to be 18 to join? Can't my parent sign the consent for me?

An individual must be 18 to donate because donation is a medical (for PBSC donation) or surgical (for marrow donation) procedure and the person undergoing the procedure must legally be able to give informed consent. A guardian or parent cannot sign a release or give consent for someone under age 18, because unrelated marrow donation is a voluntary procedure and is not directly beneficial or life-saving to the volunteer donor.

Does race or ethnicity affect matching?

Racial and ethnic heritage are very important factors. Patients are most likely to match someone of their own race or ethnicity. Today, there simply aren't enough registry members of diverse racial and ethnic heritage. Adding more diverse members increases the likelihood that all patients will find a life-saving match. Members of these backgrounds are especially needed:

  • Black or African American
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian, including South Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Multiple race

Can I get tested for a specific patient or family member?

When you join the Be The Match Registry, you make a commitment to consider donating to any searching patient who matches you. As a volunteer, you are never under any legal obligation to donate and your decision is always respected. However, because a late decision not to donate can be life-threatening to a patient, please think seriously about your commitment before deciding to join our registry.

You can request a copy of your own testing results after you join the Be The Match Registry. However, if you want to be tested only for a specific patient, you will need to have your testing done privately. You can contact the patient's transplant center or transplant doctor for more information.

How do I join the registry if I don't want to run a drive?

Be The Match can send you your own kit in the mail. Just visit http://join.bethematch.org/giveaspit

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