All about bone marrow

MATTHEW FLECKENSTEIN | STAFF REPORTER | mflecken@butler.edu

 

Bone marrow is often overlooked, but for Andrew Smith and others affected by cancer bone marrow donation is an important part in their hope for recovery. Andrew Smith’s death reminded the Indianapolis community that bone marrow transplants can help save lives and donors are needed everyday.

        Bone marrow is necessary to live. It is the soft tissue inside of bones that produces blood-forming cells and degrades after chemotherapy, and a transplant is often the only possible cure.  A transplant replaces unhealthy bone marrow cells with healthy blood-forming cells.

The bone marrow donor fills out contact information and swabs his or her cheek in order to determine tissue type. After joining the registry at a bone marrow drive or online, they could be called once or multiple times depending on how many people in need of a transplant match the donor’s tissue type.

Be The Match, started more than 25 years ago, is the largest bone marrow registry in the world.  The organization run by the National Marrow Donor Program reaches people worldwide.

There are two types of bone marrow transplants. One type, called autologous, uses a patient’s own cells, according to Be The Match. The allogeneic transplant that requires a donor.

        Both types can treat cancer, such as lymphoma.  However, an allogeneic transplant is better because it uses the donor’s immune system to fight the cancerous cells.

Butler hosted a bone marrow drive in September.  The next bone marrow drive in Indianapolis is this Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Indiana Blood Center from 8 a.m. to noon.

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