Could you "Be The Match"? Local push for bone marrow donors

TAMPA - You have the potential to be a life saver!

There are more than 400 patients in Florida with leukemia and other life threatening diseases who are hoping for a bone barrow donor to give them a chance for a longer future.

Jessica Johnson says she knows exactly what saving a life feels like.

"Christmas Eve [in 2010] was actually the day they called and said it was going to be me over other donors who maybe weren't willing and able," says Johnson.  "And then it was crunch time."

She was given a very short window to prepare once she heard she was an exact bone marrow match for a dying teenager in Texas battling leukemia.  The cancer was quickly killing him and Johnson was his only hope at that time.

"I can't even explain it to you," says Johnson.  "It puts things in perspective and it gave me so much joy and so much pleasure.  Just to know that I could ever possibly do that for somebody and I would have done it again."

Johnson was recently found out the young man she donated to is now doing well.  14 months after the bone marrow transplant she can say she literally saved a life.

You can get the ball rolling by getting a simple cheek swab test.  Then, you will be placed on the bone marrow donor registry.  More patients have a chance to get the transplants they need because more than 266,000 Floridians have joined the Be The Match registry.  But more and more people are needing help each and everyday.

"Last year we only matched about 5,800 people," says Marc Silver with Be The Match.  "Were talking very small numbers that make it all the way through the process so we need more people on the registry."

There are two ways to donate.  Through a vein in the arm, very similar to blood donations.  Or through small holes in the hip.  Each case is different and the urgency of the donation dictates where the donation will be taken from.

If you don't want to donate bone marrow, you have the option to donate financially as it cost $100 each time someone is swabbed for the donor program, according to Silver. 

You can also visit the following website for more information on the 2013 Be The Match Walk/Run at Al Lopez Park in Tampa on Saturday, March 9. 


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