New Registry Name Could Save Lives

A rose by any other name may be just as sweet. But the leaders of a national bone marrow registry believe changing the name of the program could help save lives. Bill Stamps explains.


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The National Marrow Donor Program is a registry where people who need a bone marrow transplant can look up potential matches. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside your bones. Inside the marrow are immature cells, called stem cells. New marrow and stem cells are often needed to save the lives of people with certain cancers or bone marrow diseases. But more people are needed in the registry, so officials decided to change the name to Be The Match. Doctor Wyn Johnson explains the reason for the change.

“What we wanted to do was create a name that would stay on people’s minds and also stay in their hearts, so that they would want to join the registry and possibly become a match for people who badly need a bone marrow transplant.”

Since 1987 some 35-thousand transplants have been done thanks to the registry. But the doctor Johnson says there are still thousands of people who need to find matches in order stay alive. And for those who might be afraid, she says now days most of the time all they need to do is draw blood in order to get the donor’s stem cells.

“From one arm, we’d draw whole blood. We draw off only the stem cells that we need and in the other arm we would return the blood products.”

In the cases where actual marrow is needed doctor Johnson says a needle is inserted into the hip and the marrow is taken out that way. To learn more about the registry, go to or

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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