Bone marrow is a spongy substance that fills the inside of the bones. Yellow bone marrow helps the body with fat storage, and red bone marrow aids in the production of several types of blood cells, including both red and white blood cells and platelets. In fact, red bone marrow helps produce over 200 billion new blood cells per day. As children grow, red bone marrow is slowly replaced with yellow bone marrow, and yellow bone marrow makes up the majority of an adult's total bone marrow. In adults, red bone marrow can still be found in some areas, including the pelvis, femur, tibia, humerus, sternum, ribs, and skull.
Bone marrow transplants are a significant part of leukemia treatment. They can also be a treatment for aplastic anemia and myeloproliferative disorders. The importance of bone marrow in the body is a significant reason why bone marrow donation is vital. Thus, individuals should consider signing up for the bone marrow donor registry. Of course, they should learn more about bone marrow donation first.
Why Donate Bone Marrow
Bone marrow transplants are life-saving procedures for many patients with blood cancer. A patient must be successfully matched with a donor with the same human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type to receive a transplant. This matching is necessary to reduce the risk of graft vs. host disease, a potential complication. Currently, only thirty percent of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant can find a match within their immediate family. The remaining seventy percent of patients depend on donors from the nationwide bone marrow donor registry to find a match.
In 2016, an estimated fourteen thousand Americans needed a bone marrow donor from outside of their family, and roughly fifty percent of those patients were successfully matched. The remaining fifty percent were unable to find a donor. Choosing to join the national registry of bone marrow donors could enable more patients to be successfully matched and receive a potentially life-saving transplant.
Learn about the requirements for bone marrow donation eligibility next.