Want to enjoy something naughty for being nice? The Be The Match Foundation is hosting its second annual Be The Match Walk + Run at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on Saturday, April 18 to raise money to offset the cost of adding donors to the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry and to help bone marrow transplant patients with medical costs not covered by insurance. John's Roast Pork is sponsoring the event and as a big ol' thank you, they are giving a voucher for a free sandwich to every runner who participates. The sandwich offer will be honored throughout the week following the event, and it's good for 1 small pork, roast beef or meatball.
This is an important event for the foundation. According to Sarah Brooks Hart, development coordinator for The Be The Match Foundation, it costs about $100 to add someone to the registry and they don't like to ask the donors to pay for that when they are already giving so much. Patients also face a lot of extra expense when their insurance won't cover the bone marrow transplant so Be The Match Foundation tries to help.
Besides raising funds, the Be The Match Walk + Run also gives patients who have received a successful transplant a way to celebrate, and for those who have lost a loved one, a chance to honor them in a special way. Hart explained that sometimes donors and recipients will also reconnect at their events.
"We always encourage donors and recipients to reconnect, but because not all our donors are local or some want to remain anonymous, it doesn't always happen," she said.
Joining the registry is truly a life-saving gift. Rarely is there a good match in a patient's family so they need to rely on the generosity of a complete stranger. Right now they are focusing on the younger generation, ages 18-44 from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Have you been thinking about being a donor, but a little nervous about the process?
Hart reassures us that it is a pretty simple process. When you sign up, initially all you have to do is give a cheek swab. They then use the sample from your cheek to compare specific protein markers, known as human leukocyte antigens (HLA) with HLA markers of patients who need a bone marrow transplant. If a match is found, you will be asked make a donation, which isn't as invasive as you might think.
"For most donors, you will be able to do it outpatient as a Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation which is done through an apheresis machine. There are some conditions however where the bone marrow has to be taken from both sides of the back of the pelvic bone during surgery. It is up to the patient's doctor," she said.