This February, the Ross Medical Education Center Port Huron, Michigan campus welcomed Caitlin Gallagher from Michigan Blood’s Be the Match Registry. This organization is a nonprofit blood bank serving Michigan hospitals since 1955. In fact, serving Michigan hospitals is Michigan Blood’s top priority. This incredible Michigan organization collects more than 125,000 donations annually at nine permanent donation sites and more than 3,600 mobile sites statewide. In addition to blood drives, Michigan Blood also runs a nationally recognized stem cell (marrow) program, therapeutic apheresis, DNA tissue-typing, transfusion medicine consultations, and Michigan’s first public cord blood bank. Michigan Blood is also a member of America’s Blood Centers. This powerful network of community blood banks reaches across North America and works together to provide half of the nation’s blood supply.
Caitlin spent her time covering the specifics related to Be the Match stem cell donor registry. She gave details about how the donor registry has helped save the lives of so many children and adults. Many times this is the last hope that some patients may have. On the Michigan Blood Be the Match Registry website, the steps and instructions are very detailed. When you join the Be the Match Registry, your tissue type is added to the registry.
Anyone between the ages of 18-44 can join the registry free of charge. All that’s needed is a cheek-swab and simple health questionnaire. To register online, go to bethematch.org and click “join the registry.” Be the Match encourages its participants to be 100% certain they will donate if they are a match for a patient. By joining the registry you are taking the first step to being the cure for patients with blood cancers like leukemia and other marrow diseases. It is also a commitment to take the next step if a patient needs you to donate your cells for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
When a registry member matches a patient, there are several steps before donating. These steps are meant to ensure donation is safe for both the donor and the patient. Once approved to donate, the patient’s doctor will request one of two donation methods: peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) or bone marrow. The patient’s doctor chooses the donation method that’s best for the patient. After bone marrow or blood stem cells are donated, most donors are back to their normal routine in a few days.
Caitlin also shared that there is a serious shortage of marrow/stem cell donors who represent ethnic minorities. Matches most often are found between people of the same ethnic group. A diverse group of prospective donors will give more transplant candidates a chance to find matches.
“This cause is one close to our hearts,” shared Laura Jerlecki, Office Assistant. “The Port Huron campus has had a Ross graduate sign up on the registry and match a patient. She went on to donate to the patient and help cure the patient’s blood cancer. That is reason enough to continue to encourage and promote this organization.”