In April of 2000, I decided to join the Be The Match registry to become a potential bone marrow donor. Be The Match organization had set up a table and chairs in our mall, and I walked right up to see what it was all about. I must have read a book or news article about the organization because I was aware of the registry. Their website states that average donors have a 1 in 540 chance to be called to donate bone marrow. I have been patiently waiting for my call, but was met with silence. What happened?
My questions were answered in an email from Be The Match stating that I have a rare human leukocyte antigen (HLA), and probably will never be matched as a donor. The flip side is that if someone matches my HLA typing, then they really need my donation since it is so rare. I told my mom about the discovery, and we both agreed that it was a good thing that I haven’t needed a donation for myself.
I am really looking forward to being a donor, so I told a friend about the program. She went to the website and ordered the free kit (which is to be returned with her cheek swab). Hopefully, her HLA typing will have a higher chance of matching with someone.
It is free to join the registry, as well as no charge for donating, and the website gives a lot of information about being a potential donor, recipient, and how it all works. According to the information sent to me, my chances of being a match are about 1 in 10 million. Regardless, I am still on the list just in case that one person matches this crazy allele of mine!