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Richmond Hill / Bryan News

July 16 - Richmond Hill Bone Marrow Transplant Advocates in D.C.

Blood cancer advocates visit Capitol Hill urging support for more cures to patients in need.

July 16, 2013 – This week, local Richmond Hill resident and cancer survivor John Garrett McGuire, 21, will be in Washington, D.C., along with other blood cancer patients and marrow advocates, to urge continued federal support and funding for Be The Match, a nonprofit that connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant.

A wrestler in high school, McGuire was diagnosed with leukemia just a few months after graduation, after struggling to find the energy for everyday activities. After two rounds of chemotherapy, McGuire and his doctors turned to the Be The Match Registry®, the world’s largest and most diverse registry of volunteer bone marrow donors, hoping to find a match for a bone marrow transplant. A few short months later, McGuire received his life-saving transplant. Now, a year later, McGuire is meeting with legislators in Washington, D.C. to encourage their continued support of Be The Match®, the global leader in providing bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants to patients with life-threatening blood cancers.

On July 18, together with other bone marrow advocates, McGuire will carry an urgent message to Congress: The national nonprofit Be The Match® critically needs continued federal funding to help more Americans survive life-threatening blood cancers and other diseases. The advocates will meet with lawmakers on behalf of Be The Match to reinforce the importance of the program and how their lives have been impacted by bone marrow donation – whether they have received a life-saving transplant or donated bone marrow to a stranger.

Be The Match, which connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant, relies on federal funds to grow the nation’s ranks of volunteer bone marrow donors, as well as to increase the inventory of umbilical cord blood units, which contain the same blood-forming cells as bone marrow. But under sequestration, the program stands to be cut by approximately $3 million. This means that as many as 20,000 willing volunteers and 1,000 cord blood units may not be added to the national registry.

While funding for the program has been modest compared to other federal funding, these dollars mean the difference between life and death for many Americans with life-threatening blood and marrow cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as other diseases.

“Congress continues to respond to this critical need, helping us grow the registry to more than 10.5 million people. We’ve facilitated more than 55,000 transplants and conducted research that has helped increase transplant survival rates significantly,” said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of Be The Match. “But there is still more work to do, and continued funding is vital to maintaining the unprecedented life-saving momentum we’ve gained over the past 26 years.”

In addition to meeting with lawmakers to share their powerful stories, advocates will encourage the D.C. community to join the Be The Match Registry® as potential bone marrow donors at a drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 18 at the Hart Senate Office Building, room SH-124 (in the first floor hallway between the Hart and Dirksen buildings). To join, people need to meet age and health guidelines and be willing to donate to any patient in need. People of diverse heritages who are between the ages of 18 and 44 are most urgently needed. Registration involves completing a health history form and giving a swab of cheek cells.

 

About Be The Match
For people with life-threatening blood cancers - like leukemia and lymphoma – or other diseases, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can contribute to the cure as a member of the Be The Match Registry, financial contributor or volunteer. Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education and guidance before, during and after transplant.

Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. To learn more about the cure, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1-800-MARROW-2.

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