April Is National Donate Life Month

April Is National Donate Life Month

Donate Life Month graphicApril Is National Donate Life Month

Donate Life awareness is usually focused on organ donation. However, Donate Life also includes bone marrow or stem cells for a child with cancer. What a precious gift we can give to save another’s life! I can’t think of a better gift than to give a child a chance to live a long and full life.

Cancer is #2 Killer of Kids; Blood Cancer Is #1 Childhood Cancer!

Sadly, cancer can take the life of a precious child. It may surprise you, after accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children. Over 11,000 children received a cancer diagnosis in 2020 (American Cancer Society). The single most cancer diagnosed in children is Leukemia, a blood cancer. Children diagnosed with Leukemia often benefit from bone marrow or stem cell transplants. It is easy to get on the registry to allow yourself to be a match to someone in need. A recent study has been published demonstrating that children and young adults who receive CAR T-cell therapy for the most common childhood cancer – acute lymphoblastic Leukemia – suffer remarkably fewer relapses and are far more likely to survive if their treatment is paired with a subsequent stem cell transplant, a new study finds (1). In children up to age 14, most lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphomas, with about 500 of these cancers diagnosed in the United States each year. If all children and teens up to age 19 are included, the numbers of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) are about equal. There are about 800 cases of NHL diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Registry

BetheMatch.org helps maintain a registry of potential donors who match a recipient in need of a life-saving cure for their cancer when traditional methods fail. A cheek swab is all that is required to see if you are a match to someone who is in need. This registry is checked for Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) matching to patients in need of a new immune system. HLA matching is used to match patients with donors. If two people share the same HLA type, they are considered a ‘match.’ It’s much more complicated than blood typing. It is vital for individuals of mixed ethnic groups who have fewer options to find a donor match to consider joining the registry.

Umbilical Cord Registry

Did you know you can also donate cord blood at Be The Match® partners with a network of public cord blood banks that collect and store cord blood units? The umbilical cord at birth can be stored and used later to save a life. There is life after transplant. A new immune system can cure certain lymphomas. With the increase in follicular lymphoma, there is growing concern about the link to pesticides known for many years to have causation to follicular non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is not usually curable. The only option for cure is a bone marrow transplant once all other treatment plans fail.

I Am Cured Because There Was a Match on the Registry

Please consider getting on the registry to see if you may be a match and save a life. There is no obligation to do so, but to give another person the chance to continue their life is incalculable. I had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for ten years, going through countless chemo regimens until it transformed into a very aggressive type of cancer. BetheMatch.org helped find me a match on the registry. It has been six years since my stem cell transplant from a generous young man from Germany, and I am now cured of cancer. No words can express my deepest gratitude for his gift. I was able to see my youngest daughter graduate high school and be there to support the lovely young woman she has become. I also have two other daughters who are grateful their mother is still with them. At Here to Serve, we want to help families going through the challenges of cancer, and what better way to help families than donate life-saving white cells so they can remain together as a family. Please help us help families in need by considering getting on the registry to see if you may be a match to help save lives. We are Here to Serve. Please let families you know who are struggling with childhood cancer get the resources they need. Or perhaps you would prefer to volunteer or donate resources. We are here to help make lives better!

1) Shah, Nirali N., et al. “Long-Term Follow-Up of CD19-CAR T-Cell Therapy in Children and Young Adults With B-ALL.” Journal of Clinical Oncology (2021): JCO-20.

By Amanda Enciso