This Issue

Bone marrow transplant:
More African American donors needed

Waiting for a match

It takes a little part of you to
make a person whole

Giving blood

Looking to donate?

Q & A

A closer look

When bone marrow is unhealthy

Bone marrow (stem cell) transplants are often recommended for conditions that result in the production of abnormal blood cells, such as the following:


• Acute lymphocytic

• Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

• Acute myelogenous leukemia
• Chronic myelogenous leukemia

• Hodgkin’s lymphoma

• Non-Hodgkins lymphoma

• Multiple myeloma


• Sickle cell disease

• Thalassemia
• Aplastic anemia

• Severe immune deficiency disorders

When bone marrow is unhealthy

A call for help

A lifeline

The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline, but once clamped and cut after the baby is born, it can be the lifeline for someone else. Cord blood — once considered medical waste — is rich in stem cells, which can be used in transplants. But time is limited. You have to complete enrollment to donate cord blood by the end of the 32nd or 34th week of pregnancy depending on the blood bank used.

• Call the Be The Match Registry at 800-507-5427 to find out which hospitals in your state participate.

In Massachusetts, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center take part.

• If your hospital is not listed you can still donate. Contact the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank at 919-668-2071 or Lifeforce Cryobanks at 800-869-8608

There is no cost to you and no harm to you or the baby.
If you don’t donate, the blood is thrown away.
A closer look

Image courtesy of National Marrow Donor Program

More than 70 percent of the time peripheral blood stem cells, which circulate in the bloodstream, are requested for donation. The process is very much like blood donation. Blood is taken from one arm and transferred to a machine which separates and retains the stem cells. The rest of the blood is returned to you in the other arm.

Generally, donors are required to take a medication for five days prior to the donation to boost the stem cell population in the blood. The process itself takes about four hours and is often done for two days.

A lifeline

Dana-Farber/ Harvard Cancer Center 2011 National Minority Cancer Awareness

Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities
2011 National Minority Cancer Awareness

April 17 - April 23

Boston Public Library Cancer
Awareness Display

• Codman Square Branch Library
690 Washington Street

• Mattapan Branch Library
1350 Blue Hill Avenue

• Brighton Branch Library
40 Academy Hill Road

April 28: 12 - 1 p.m.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Harvard Street Neighborhood
Health Center
632 Blue Hill Avenue

May 16: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Roxbury YMCA
285 Martin Luther King Boulevard

April 21:
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Reducing Cancer Disparities & Promoting Health Equity Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Populations
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Riesman Lecture Hall, 330 Brookline Avenue

Registration is required:

All events are open to the public
For any additional information contact
Athene Wilson Glover at 617-632-4860

Another good reason to visit the dentist

“All you have to do is open your mouth.”

— The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance

The oral cancer examination is painless and quick … and life-saving. When cancers of the head and neck are found early, the cure rate is high. Annual screenings by a doctor or dentist should be a part of your regular physical or dental checkup. The provider:

• Inspects your face, neck, lips and mouth.

• Feels the area under your jaw and the sides of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.

• Asks you to stick out your tongue to check for swelling, color and texture.

• Using gauze, lifts your tongue and pulls it from one side, then the other.

• Checks the roof and floor of your mouth and the back of your throat.

• Feels and examines the insides of your lips and cheeks for red or white patches.

• Places one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, presses down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer
Awareness Week is May 8 – 14.

Photo by Vannessa Carrington/Mass. Eye and Ear

Get screened for head and neck
cancer. It’s free, quick and painless.

Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building Lobby
830 Harrison Avenue
Date: April 2
Time: 8 a.m. - noon

Tufts Medical Center
860 Washington Street
Date: May 12
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles Street
Date: May 13
Time: TBA
Dedham Family Dental
Dr. Helaine Smith
30 Milton Street, Dedham
Date: May 11
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mass General Hospital
Voice Center

One Bowdoin Square,
11th Floor
Date: May 13
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Remember to call ahead to confirm
time and date
of screenings.

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A call for help

People of color are underrepresented in the Be The Match registry, including cord blood donation.

It takes a little part of you to make a person whole

A donor drive at Claflin University, a historically black university in South Carolina. (Photos coutesy of National Marrow Donor Program)


Want to be a lifesaver?

You needn’t sprint toward the nearest burning building or leap into raging waters. Instead, consider becoming a donor. Blood and blood products, and particularly bone marrow and organs are sorely needed by millions of children and adults dealing with life-threatening illnesses, blood loss or accidents.

A great need exists for African American and other minority donors. Having a good genetic match raises the odds of success for bone marrow transplants and sometimes even helps in blood transfusions.

Read on to learn why becoming a donor is so important, who can donate, how it’s done, whether it affects your health and how to sign up.

Bone marrow donation

Bone marrow transplants can be life-saving for people with serious illnesses, such as lymphoma and leukemia. Be The Match Registry, sponsored by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), connects doctors worldwide to donors who are good genetic matches. Race and ethnicity matter here. A similar heritage produces a closer match, which is better for patients, according to the NMDP. Currently, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian and mixed background donors are in short supply.

Who can donate?

People between 18 and 60 can register as donors. Some health problems are not a barrier: for example, well-controlled asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure; mild to moderate arthritis; and even early stage cancers of the skin, cervix, breast and bladder. Expectant parents can donate umbilical cord blood, which contains blood-forming cells used for some transplants.

You can’t be a donor if donation would be too risky due to your weight, or if you’ve had certain serious ailments, such as autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or lupus; AIDS or HIV; hepatitis B or C; and most cancers and forms of heart disease. Other health guidelines apply, too. Check with your doctor if you are considering donation and have questions.

Registering to be a donor should not be taken lightly. If you are found to be a match — that means a patient is depending on you to follow through with your commitment. The process is not as simple as blood donation and it is important to be aware of what it entails before making the decision to register and be tested.

How is it done?

A cheek swab collects material for tissue typing. If you join the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match Registry, you will be provided with a cheek cell swab registration kit. You can also visit to find a bone marrow drive near you. If you prove to be a match, the registry will contact you. You’ll be asked to do tests for further matching, then possibly for a donation made in one of two ways:

• Non-surgically

Stem cells and other key blood cells are collected from circulating blood. Peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donors take a drug called filgrastim for five days. Then a sterile needle placed in one arm pumps blood through tubing to a machine that separates out the stem cells. The remaining blood is returned to the body through a needle in the other arm.

• Surgically

Liquid marrow is removed from the pelvic bone through a hollow needle. Anesthesia is used so no pain is felt during the procedure.

Join the National Marrow Donor Program
at Dana-Farber

Courtesy of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
How will it affect you?

Your body replaces the donated cells within four to six weeks. Common side effects of filgrastim include headaches, joint or muscle aches or tiredness for several days before collection and possibly a few days afterward. Most PBSC donors recover within two weeks. Surgical bone marrow donors may have lower back soreness for a few days or more. Most recover within three weeks.

What else should you consider?

Think carefully before registering and talk to family members and friends. If a match is made, the decision to donate remains your choice. However, backing out­ — especially at the last moment — can be health-threatening to the person who needs the marrow.