Donate bone marrow — it is painless and saves lives

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By Mihir Boddupalli

Chicago: This is an urgent appeal to save lives.  Two of my friends, Sonia and Sanjana, suffer from a life-threatening disease and are hoping to find a bone marrow match to have another chance at life.  A few minutes of a donor’s time for registering as a bone marrow donor could save these lives.

Sanjana is in her early 40s, a mother of twins, and used to teach in a school in Sunnyvale, California, before her diagnosis.  Sonia is 24 years old, and waiting to find a bone marrow match very quickly.  Stories like those of Sonia and Sanjana have taught me how quickly a life can take a turn for the worse, but more importantly, they have shown me how communities can band together to save a life.

My inspiration for becoming involved in bone marrow donor registration was the story of another one of my friends Sameer, whose friends and family managed to create enough awareness about his condition that 30,000 people registered as bone marrow donors, and they succeeded in finding a bone marrow match.  It really is remarkable what we’re capable of in numbers.

Bone marrow transplants represent their only chance at survival. Matches for bone marrow transplants are found within ethnic groups. For South Asians, there remains a severe lack of registered bone marrow donors — the chances of a South Asian like Sonia or Sanjana finding a bone marrow match are roughly 1 in 20,000 (compared to eight in 10 for Caucasians).  Rather than viewing these statistics as an unfortunate problem, I see a representation of incredible room for growth.   In working with Stanford University’s campaign to register people of South Asian descent as bone marrow donors, we hope to significantly increase the number of South Asians in the bone marrow registry and in the process, give people like Sonia and Sanjana a much better chance at life.

We believe that the lack or registrants is mostly due to naivety — many people simply do not know how easy it is to register, and how the simple act of swabbing a cheek can have life-changing repercussions.  We would like everyone’s help in spreading information about bone marrow donation.  For instance, many people do not know that. To get registered please go to the following website join.bethematch.org/100kcheeks.

Registering as a bone marrow donor takes less than five minutes and can be done from the comfort of your own home! (via a home test kit, similar to netflix). To see how easy it is for yourself, please watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfqQQN-4OkQ

There is a huge myth that donating bone marrow is a very painful procedure.  This is not true.

Donating bone marrow is no longer necessarily painful.   A few minutes of your time, swabbing your cheek and registering as a bone marrow donor, could save someone’s life.  If you’d like more information, please contact me at mboddupalli22@gmail.com or 630-272-6735.

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