Be The Match – How Might We Increase the Number of Registered Bone Marrow Donors to Save More Lives?

In January, when my sister celebrated 25 years of survival from childhood Leukemia, I wrote about it here on the blog and encouraged you to register as a bone marrow donor at It only took one week for me to hear back from a friend that as a registered donor herself, took the initiative to help her fiance get registered as well.  I was encouraged by these positive results and hoped that of the 107 people who have viewed that blog post, at least a few more have been inspired to register.

Sharon speaking at the StartingBloc Insitute in LA

Kristeen and I giving our Be The Match pitch at StartingBloc Insitute in LA - Photo Credit: Kwiri Yang

Remembering the success of telling my sister and I’s story on the blog, I used the  opportunity of the Ideas Marketplace at StartingBloc to ask a captive audience of about 90 people to register.   I did this with the help of my new friend Kristeen Singh, one of my group members at StartingBloc.  Kristeen inspired me, giving her bone marrow last December to a 17 year old boy who was suffering from Leukemia.  She appears to have saved his life, and having also worked for the National Marrow Donor Registry, is committed to getting more people registered as potential donors.  Kristeen and I were so pleased and proud to find out that one of our group members, Julian, registered as soon as he returned from the Institute.  This makes me think that for every 100 people I can tell my story to, and ask to register, at least one will follow through and add their name to the Bone Marrow Donor registry.  This is progress, but how can we increase that percentage and get to a tipping point on Bone Marrow registrations?

Kristeen shared with me this new challenge from Open IDEO and the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University.

If you’ve never heard of Open IDEO (as I hadn’t) – it is a really cool open source platform for creativity and collaboration.  Right now this challenge is in the Inspiration phase, which means you can post sources of inspiration that may help generate new solutions (pictures, videos, ideas).  The Inspiration phase is open for 10 more days.  The next phase is Concepting where you are encouraged to share your ideas for how to solve this problem, drawing on what was suggested in the Inspiration phase.  Next, the challenge moves to Evaluation where you can rate and comment on the ideas.

So, now you have 2 ways to get involved in helping to save more lives through Bone Marrow Registry

1. Register as a Bone Marrow Donor at

2. Join the Open IDEO challenge & contribute your ideas on how to register more bone marrow donors

Shout out to Rachel, Hadyn, and LiAnn who are also registered as potential bone marrow donors and serve as inspiration to others.  Also, thank you to Vinod who has donated marrow twice and commented on the previous post.  And thank you to Amy who commented previously to let everyone know that after you register online, all you need to do is a simple cheek swab — no pain, no blood, even a Tewksbury could do it!  And finally, a shout out to my friend Kim, who shared on the last post that she was a kidney donor and was able to save a life without any personal health complications.


5 responses to “Be The Match – How Might We Increase the Number of Registered Bone Marrow Donors to Save More Lives?

  1. It’s funny you posted this today – I started my hem/onc rotation today and saw my first bone marrow biopsy! I’ll do my first one myself tomorrow! whoo!

  2. Melinda Bloom

    How exciting for your friend Kristeen to have donated bone marrow recently and possibly saved someone’s life! I hope she realizes that even if the person does not ultimately survive, she has given him/her a chance he/she would not have had otherwise. Thanks to Kristeen and others who have donated. May I also say thank you to all those who donate blood. Many times Nora received blood from all those wonderful people who give out of the goodness of their hearts and never know who will receive their blood. It is very humbling to be the recipient of the goodness of others, in large and small ways.

  3. I’m already registered Sharon! William & Mary runs the largest (collegiate?) bone marrow registration drive in the country. The fundraising efforts also support a registration drive at one of the nearby HBCU’s to help increase minority numbers, since finding a match is much harder for minorities (small pool of potential people means fewer potential matches). It was the cool thing to do freshman year to get registered – it’s a couple of drops on some paper and then there is the possibility that you could save someone’s life.

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