Be The Match, a global leader in bone marrow transplantation, will swab cheeks to add to its international registry of potential bone marrow and stem cell donors on Sunday, March 1, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The drive will be at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel, 10-10 Norma Ave., Fair Lawn.
People with life-threatening diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia, may be cured through bone marrow or stem cell transplant. About 70 percent of patients do not have a fully matched donor in their families and turn to Be The Match to find an unrelated donor. Potential donors must be between 18 and 44 years old, from any ethnicity or background.
“I learned that finding a matching donor can be complicated,” said Ronald Roth, rabbi emeritus at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel. Rabbi Roth was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a rare form of blood cancer, in 2015. His brother was tested but did not qualify as a match. No perfect match was found, even after his doctor added him to the Be The Match patient registry. As Rabbi Roth’s condition worsened, his doctor decided to try a relatively new procedure, which uses a “haploid” or related half-match. Rabbi Roth’s 35-year-old son donated his bone marrow for a transplant in 2018. Haploid transplants may result in greater complications and have a lower success rate, but the rabbi is doing well.
“I am committed to helping Be The Match increase and broaden its donor registry,” Rabbi Roth said. “My chances for success would have been greater with a perfect match, and I know how lucky I am to have the outcome I did. I want everyone facing a terrible blood cancer diagnosis to have the best chance of beating the disease. Having as many donors as possible on the Be The Match registry can do that.”
Over the last 30 years, Be The Match, operated by the nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program, has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world, working every day to save lives through transplant. In addition, the organization conducts research to improve transplant outcomes and provides support and resources for patients. For more information, go to bethematch.org. For more information on the March 1 bone marrow drive, call (201) 796-5040.