National Marrow Awareness Month is observed in November to acknowledge the achievements of transplant physicians. This month also honors the people who donate their stem cells and bone marrow which helps in giving patients a second chance at life. This month generates awareness about the importance of bone marrow transplants and encourages people to donate. Found inside the bones, marrow is a spongy material that contains stem cells. These cells eventually become white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. They have different important functions to keep the body healthy and strong. Patients with life-threatening diseases need these healthy stem cells to live a longer life.
History of National Marrow Awareness Month
The first human bone marrow transfusion is said to have been given to a patient with aplastic anemia in 1939. The patient required daily blood transfusions, and doctors attempted to raise her leukocyte and platelet count using intravenous injection of bone marrow. In 1956, Barnes and his colleagues published their experiment on two groups of mice with acute leukemia. They noted the ability of the new engrafted immune system to prevent leukemia relapse and the activity of the engrafted immune system against the recipient.
In 1960, the first successful bone marrow transplant took place, which used bone marrow from an identical twin. In 1968, the first successful bone marrow transplant using marrow from a sibling who was not an identical twin occurred. The first registry in the world to recruit unrelated bone marrow donors was created by the Anthony Nolan charity in London, England. In the U.S., the registry to recruit bone marrow donors was established in 1979, which was originally called the National Marrow Donor Registry; it is now renamed ‘Be The Match.’
In the early 1980s, research on autologous transplants, transplants that use patients’ own stem cells instead of donor cells, began, and now autologous transplants are performed more than transplants using donor cells. In 1990, B.T.M. InfoNet was created, which provides patients with information and support before, during, and after the transplant, and it is a big help to the patients.
National Marrow Awareness Month timeline
The first successful bone marrow transplant takes place, which uses bone marrow from an identical twin.
The first successful transplant using bone marrow from an unrelated donor takes place in London, England.
The registry to recruit bone marrow donors is established in the U.S.
Research on autologous transplants, transplants which use patients' own stem cells instead of donor cells, begins.
National Marrow Awareness Month FAQs
How many times can one donate bone marrow?
Bone marrow can be donated several times throughout one’s lifetime.
What disqualifies people from being a donor?
People with chronic neck, back, hip, or spine pain cannot be donors.
Is the donation process painful?
The removal of stem cells is not very painful, and it can take around three hours to complete the procedure.
How to Observe National Marrow Awareness Month
Read about the subject
Read up on the importance of bone marrow transplants and how this procedure can change lives. Research the various possible kinds of transplants and understand the nuances of the process.
Spread awareness about it
There are many people out there who have no idea about bone marrow transplants. You can educate people about this procedure by sharing posts and articles about it on social media.
Become a donor
Donate bone marrow if you are eligible. You will be able to save many lives by doing this.
5 Interesting Facts About Bone Marrow Transplants
Leukemia kills more children than any other type of cancer.
A family match is difficult
Around 70% of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in the family.
Donors have requirements
To be a donor in the U.S., a person should be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good health.
Ethnicity is an important factor
The likelihood of finding a donor is 66% for African-American patients, 73% for Asian and Pacific Islanders, 82% for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 93% for white patients.
Bone marrow donation happens in two ways
In the first method, blood is taken from a donor’s arm and is put in a machine where stem cells are separated and then returned through the other arm; in the second method, marrow cells are extracted from the hip bone.
Why National Marrow Awareness Month is Important
It offers support
Diseases like cancer put most families in deep distress. Learning or relaying information about bone marrow transplants and donations can offer a ray of hope for so many people silently struggling.
It educates people
Many people have very little or no idea about the process of stem cell donation and how it saves lives. This month offers individuals the opportunity to clear their doubts and understand more about the procedure.
It saves lives
This month is dedicated to encouraging people to donate stem cells. It plays a significant part in the lives of people with life-threatening diseases.
National Marrow Awareness Month dates