Become a Bone Marrow Donor

December 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

By Dave Emberson

We introduced you to Dave recently in his article titled Feeling Better, But Isolated. Dave was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in July and has been an active advocate for blood donations at our Santa Cruz Yacht Club blood drive.

The current state-of-the art treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients is the bone marrow transplant. Be the Match, the National Marrow Donor Program is a great site that explains the process and how to register as a donor. The donor is sent a saliva swab kit and some questions about his or her medical history. The main thing is to get as many people in the database as possible.

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I’ve had lots of friends contact me about the New York Times article about the very promising experiment conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. You can read the article here. This experiment is one of the first to develop a “magic bullet” against cancer. In this case it has been tried on twelve patients and four of them appear to be completely cured. The downside with this particular treatment is that it kills all the B-cells, not just the cancerous ones. So the body is then unable to produce certain antigens or fight certain classes of diseases. But this is where all the genetic research is leading. In the near future, a cancer patient will be injected with modified cells, which will search out and destroy only the cancer cells. There could possibly even be a genetically engineered vaccine. Whether I live to see it is a 50-50 proposition at this point, but someday soon having cancer will be no worse than having an infection curable with a penicillin shot.