In early May, Giving Something Back hosted a Be the Match registration drive and successfully added more than 80 individuals to the Be the Match registry. Thousands of patients with blood cancers, such as leukemia, or other diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, need a marrow transplant to survive. Most patients (70%) do not have a fully matched donor in their family — and that is when they turn to the Be The Match registry.
The drive held a personal connection for two members of the Class of 2019, who were able to share how the drive and registry have had meaningful impacts on their lives.
After receiving a leukemia diagnosis, Ryan Witte ('19) found a match through the registry. In sharing his story, he noted, "When I was diagnosed with leukemia, my doctors knew right away that I would need a bone marrow transplant and had both of my brothers tested to see if they were a match. They were not a match.... Luckily, we were able to find someone on the registry who was willing to donate, and on February 21, 2017 I had my transplant. Be the Match (and their international partner registries) saved my life, and without it I would not be alive or here at Booth".
Ryan Waldorf ('19) experienced the other side of the process, having been a donor in 2011. He noted, "The process was so quick and simple that I don’t even remember signing up. So I was really surprised to hear I was a match about 30 days after signing up... You are under no obligation to donate even if you’re a match, but I’m really happy I did. I met Oscar Romero and his son Oscar Jr. in 2013 — Oscar’s an incredibly kind individual and so appreciative of the second chance modern medicine has given him."
Unfortunately, there are thousands of people every year who are unable to find a match. Patients are more likely to match with donors of similar ethnic backgrounds, and many ethnicities are drastically underrepresented on the registry. Because of the diversity here at Booth, we therefore have a unique opportunity to help the registry.
If you are interested in joining the registry (you can have a kit mailed home to you), making a monetary donation, or learning more, please visit www.bethematch.org or reach out to any of the Giving Something Back co-chairs.
Giving Something Back’s goal is to enlist the business school community in support of volunteer and community service activities.