UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – According to the National Bone Marrow Donor registry, Be the Match, about 16,000 people will need a bone marrow transplant each year. Unfortunately, only about 6,000 of them will find a match.
To donate bone marrow to a patient, the donor must have genetic match to the patient. According to Be the Match Community Representative Amanda Cooley, sometimes it’s difficult to find a match. For example, only about 30 percent of the time will a relative be a genetic match to a patient.
“It is important that we diversify the registry and recruit as many ethnically diverse donors because since it is genetically based, most people have the best chance at finding their match with the same ethnic background,” Cooley said.
Based on the ethnic backgrounds of current donors registered with Be the Match, Caucasian patients have a 77 percent chance at finding a match, while African American patients have a 23 percent chance. To improve those numbers, there needs to be more people registered to donate.
“Know that everyone could play a part because it could be you one day that needs a transplant or knows someone that needs a transplant,” Cooley said.
Anthony Schmidt, 9, has been waiting for a match for nearly five years. According to his mom, Dawn, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as Fanconi. Because of his disorder, he needs a bone marrow transplant to protect him from serious health problems like Leukemia.