Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Friday's game at Comcast (8:30 PM) between the Terps and Georgia Tech has been designated as Leukemia Awareness Night. Coach B and the Maryland program have joined forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Team Tyler Foundation to raise awareness of leukemia and also celebrate survivors of this terrible disease.

The Team Tyler Foundation, founded by former Terps players, is (as we suspect you already know) named for Tyler Thomas, son of Coach B and Mark Thomas. Tyler, who was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2010, is, from everything we've heard and seen, doing very well. It's been simply wonderful to see him, now more than a year after his diagnosis, enjoying basketball (and life) at the Comcast Center this season along with his twin brother, Markus.

Some victims of leukemia may not be so fortunate, however. And so the BCs encourage you, if possible, to donate to these worthy organizations. But whether you can donate (or not) we also want to tell you about another way that you might save the life of someone who has leukemia. Join the Be the Match Registry (formerly called the National Bone Marrow Registry)!

As you probably know and can read about in greater detail on the Be the Match web site, here, individuals suffering from leukemia and other blood cancers sometimes need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive. Basically, they need the stem cells that are found in bone marrow and that mature into new blood cells, and they need them from someone who is a suitable match in terms of marrow cell types. The closer the match, the greater the chance that the transplant will be a success.

Unfortunately, close matches are hard to find; according to the Registry, only half of all persons needing a marrow transplant receive one. Obviously, the more people who are listed on the Registry, the greater the chance that a person needing a transplant will find a suitable match. Every single one of us can increase that person's chances by joining the Registry. So if you aren't already on the Registry, sign up . . . and maybe save a life.

In the recent past, bone marrow donations were primarily done through a surgical procedure in which marrow was taken from the donor's hip bones (under anesthesia, of course). It sounds scary and very painful, but it really isn't . . . it's Trust us, we know. Now, however, that type of procedure, in many if not most cases, isn't even necessary. Modern medicine has enabled stem cells to be collected and donated through a relatively simple procedure (called a peripheral blood stem cell donation) that is very much like donating plasma or platelets, for most people not much more difficult than a blood donation.

And joining the Registry is now very easy. You don't have to go anywhere. You don't need to have any blood drawn. You can join from the comfort of your own home. All it takes is a simple swab of cells from the inside of your cheek. All of the information to join can be found here. If you aren't already a member of the Registry, the BCs urge you to become one.

Someday, you just may be that one in a million who is the best "match" for a person who would otherwise die without your help. Wouldn't that be wonderful! Or someday, you or someone close to you might need one of those one in a million matches. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that match came from someone who responded to Leukemia Awareness Night and joined the Registry.

Donate and Register! Go Terps . . . beat the Yellow Jackets! Beat Leukemia!


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