Men ages 18 to 35 are ideal bone marrow donors for patients who need a life-saving transplant to cure their blood cancer or other blood disease. Knowing this, Be The Match, the organization that manages the world’s largest and most diverse registry of potential marrow donors, is focused on attracting more registry members in this crucial demographic.
Potential donors are largely unaware of the need and process for bone marrow donation, and Be The Match hopes to change that by sharing stories of young men like Jacob Gribb, Watertown High grad C.J. Logan and Jake Prus, former college athletes who have completed the donation process and are passionate about getting others involved.
“The first time it really hit me about what was happening was when I asked a nurse what would have happened if I had decided not to donate,” Gribb said. “She told me that the patient wouldn’t have had a chance to survive and would have died. The patient was literally going to receive a piece of me so that he could have a chance to live.”
Gribb, Logan and Prus will travel with Be The Match to Orlando for the game to attend player practices, skills drills and be recognized during halftime.
It’s no coincidence that all three of these donors come from Villanova. The Wildcats’ head football coach, Andy Talley, is an avid supporter of Be The Match and co-created the organization’s “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” (GITG) initiative, which encourages on-campus donor recruitment, largely supported by college athletes. More than 75 other college football programs have enlisted to participate in GITG, resulting in nearly 71,000 new registry members, more than 300 of whom have matched with and donated to a patient in need. Talley is retiring after the 2016 season, but his commitment to getting more committed young donors on the registry remains strong.
“With a lot more time on my hands, I am looking forward to increasing awareness and recruiting a ton of coaches to join our Get in the Game initiative,” Talley said. “It is my dream to have every college football team nationwide host a drive and join our passion of saving lives.”
The three former players are excited to speak about their experience with this group of soon-to-be college athletes. When asked about donating bone marrow, Prus said, “It wasn’t hard and it is not painful! I encourage everyone to join the registry.”
The need for new registry members is a great one. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia, and for many of them, a bone marrow transplant is their only hope for a cure. Seventy percent of those who need a transplant don’t have a fully matched donor in their family and therefore rely on the marrow of a stranger. Male donors ages 18 to 35 are requested most often by doctors as a match for their patients. Men tend to have more body mass than women—therefore more marrow—and the younger a person is, the healthier their marrow.
Sponsorship of the Under Armour All-America Football Game is the first of a series of sports-focused sponsorships Be The Match has planned in 2017, all in the hopes of getting committed young men to join the Be The Match Registry®.
For more information, and to join the registry, visit betheguy.org.
About Be The Match®
For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry®, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant.
Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research through its research program, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®), so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1 (800) MARROW-2.