The Hemoglobin Mail

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dwindling Family Size Causing Transplant Donor Shortage

Blood cancers like leukemia can be treated and possibly cured through bone marrow or stem cell transplants, but because of smaller family size, the number of sibling donors are declining, and so are the chances of patient survival. If you have leukemia for example, there is a 25% chance that a sibling will be a good enough genetic match to pursue the transplant treatment. The larger the family, the better the odds. However, family size is dwindling, and the chances of a patient getting a family match will be half of what it was only some years ago.

Transplants can save lives, though different hospitals/doctors put the success rate at anywhere between 40-75% or more. The transplant process itself is very risky for the patient, can be an 15% chance of not making it, due to infections on a wiped out immune system. Some transplants are very successful, and return many people back to their normal lives, and others have side effects (graft versus host disease), sometimes life altering follow up problems, while others just do not make it at all.

But the chances of surviving with a transplant is much greater than just from chemo and radiation alone. And, ideally the donor would be a family member, male donors for male recipients preferably too. But with smaller families comes more risks. The other hope is to receive a transplant from an outside donor, and that can save lives too. Sometimes the risks are higher for graft versus host disease complications, but other times, it works well.

So if you are ever inclined to feel like saving a life by being a possible bone marrow or stem cell donor, check out OneMatch to sign up as a donor.
p.s. Many thanks to blood donors for saving thousands of lives each year.

No comments:

Post a Comment