Marrow donor programs -- do they really work?

A few years back I registered with one of the national bone marrow donor organizations – someone I worked with was looking for a donor – and now it’s many years later and I’m still on the list. The bone marrow registry just asked me for an update, which brings me to my question.

How many people actually find bone marrow matches with absolute strangers? Does this actually happen or is this just a well-intentioned but ultimately futile gesture?

If I thought I had something that could help someone – save a life, improve the quality of failing life, etc – of course I’d be happy to help out. But is this going to be something that will actually be useful?

From the national marrow donor program website:

You’re obviously more likely to get a call if you’re rarer than the rest of us - if you’re of an underrepresented ethnicity, for example. I’m on it, but I figure they’ve got a lot of white girls just like me.

ETA - plus, it’s no skin off your teeth to stay on the list. You’ll probably never get a call. But if you do, you’re probably also somebody’s last shot.

In April 2008 I was contacted by the National Marrow Donor Program. Turns out that I had registered to be a donor at a blood drive in college in 1996. After twelve years someone came up for whom I might have been a compatible match. Unfortunately in 2002 I was diagnosed with lymphoma which made me ineligible.

I can’t remember how it was that they got my updated address to contact me. Since the blood drive was at my university, it’s possible they found me that way. At any rate, in my case the marrow registry might have led to a successful match, and I would have been happy to have made the donation if the situation had been different.

There are many ways to find people , one way is through your credit record since most everyone above the age of 22 has a credit record.

Yeah, I’m staying on the list and plan to stay until I age off of it. I just wondered how many of these matches actually happen. I’m not closing the door on anything. But I am of average Caucasian ethnicity, just plain folks.

Not permissible purpose to pull a credit report for such a reason.

I was told once that you had to be under a certain weight to donate marrow, because the collection was invasive and obesity was an extra risk. Anyone know if that’s true?

Recent thread on the topic of marrow donation, wherein Doper Spiff, who works for the program, answers several questions.

According to him/her, about 1 in 202 database enrollees has actually made a marrow donation (more near misses get calls). As others have said, how rare your DNA is, and how susceptible it is to various diseases, affects the odds.

I signed up back in 1991-ish and was finally contacted late last year as a potential match. I went through a couple rounds of screening and am now waiting to see if they’ll need me to go to the next step.

You don’t pull a credit report, you just get the person’s address. I know this was done in the past so it’s still OK unless some law has changed.