How Can You Help?

26 Feb

I’ve heard from so many of you wholeheartedly asking how you can help, and specifically if you can be tested to be my bone marrow donor.

The short answer is not exactly – not for me exclusively, at least. My brother Jack has a one in four chance of being a match and the odds are unlikely even for my parents. A cousin is basically as likely to be a match as a stranger, so the insurance company rightly limits the expensive tests that would only apply for my benefit.

BUT the good news is there’s a lot you can do, both for me and for the thousands of people who are facing life-threatening diseases today.

You can sign up to be a bone marrow donor through the national Be The Match Registry. It’s WAY easier than you think and trust me, it’s so very appreciated by those in need. You may have questions:

How do I register? Simply click “Join Now” at You must be age 18-60, in good health, and willing to donate to anyone in need. After registering online, they send you a kit in the mail and you simply mail back a cheek swab. (If you end up being someone’s match, you will be asked to get simple blood work later to test your HLA type)

Does it cost anything to register? No, but it would be great if you could donate to Be The Match. Each testing kit costs $100 for them to process, and they also provide wonderful patient services, education, advocacy and research.

Could I be Jenna’s donor? Potentially, but you could also have the opportunity to donate to someone with your specific HLA type (we’re talking crazy-specific molecular level here). I’m lucky because I’m of Northern European descent (think countries that produce redheads) and there are lot of us registered, but for those who are of African-American, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc. descent, finding a donor is especially difficult. If you aren’t a white girl like me, please especially consider donating.

If I’m a match, what is the donation process like? The donation process is surprisingly simple and painless. It’s done in one of two anti-climactic ways, described best by Be The Match.

Be The Match has a great list of FAQs for any other questions you have. Please consider joining or donating financially. Always one to take an opportunity to quote Shaq, (their spokesman) – here’s your chance to Do Something Big.

Until then, I’m ardently trying to get all of New Ulm registered. We’re almost all related anyway.

Thanks so much for your outpouring of messages, emails and comments of support. It means so much.


To leave a comment,just click on “Comments” below this post. It will take you to a new page. Scroll to the bottom where it says “Leave a Reply.” Fill in your name, email address, and your comment in the boxes. When you’re finished, click “Post Comment.” It’s great to hear from you!

3 Responses to “How Can You Help?”

  1. Erin M Tassey February 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Ok I am all signed up and my fingers are crossed that our Northern Euro ginger genes are a match for you and others who are in need. Lots of thoughts and prayers for you and your family. Miss you!

    • Heather Schmitz February 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      I registered as well Jenna, even if I am unable to help you maybe there is someone else I can help!


  2. Mary Koppel February 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I’m already in the national marrow donor list – and Jenna – here’s hoping one of us gives you the match you need. Yes, you are very familiar with the amazing BMT work of the U – and we’re all here to help you in any way we can. Best and thinking of you

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