Close to my birthday, I usually receive multiple opportunities to eat my way through local restaurants or blow birthday gift cards with discounts to national chain stores. Several weeks ago I received a very different message.
Since 1989, after a huge community effort to find a bone marrow match for Allison Atlas, I have been on the National Marrow Donor Program registry. When I reach my birthday at the end of this week I will no longer be eligible to donate. The email was thanking for me for my willingness to consider donation should there be a match with someone in need. In all these years, I have only been called upon once for additional testing but the match was not good enough.
When I was first tested, an enormous effort to find a match for Allison brought in almost 70,000 new potential donors. Still, it took an additional 7 years for the registry to have its first million names. As of early 2013, the registry had grown to over 10 million people. According to BeTheMatch.org, each day 17 patients are matched and given an additional chance for life.
Many of my friends are at the same stage of life as I. But that doesn’t mean any of us are beyond helping this and similar worthy efforts. Writing a check helps, no doubt about it. But we can also encourage others we know, including our children and other younger friends, to sign up for the registry. And to opt in as organ donors on their drivers’ licenses. Or to be become a blood or platelet donor if s/he is eligible. Thanks to advances in medicine, many of us have friends or relatives who have benefitted from the generosity of anonymous donors. And there are some things that money alone just can’t buy.
So while I was one to get the email this year, I hoping some of you will respond to this message and pass it along.