February 14th is National Donor Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about organ, bone marrow, blood donations, and the lives of the patients that can be saved. Established in 1998 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ support, National Donor Day acknowledges organ, bone marrow, and blood donors’ kindness and generosity, aiming to increase the number of donations across the United States.
Nearly 18,000 people in the United States are annually diagnosed with blood cancers – such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, where a bone marrow transplant from a matched donor can be lifesaving. Bone marrow transplant (BMT), also called hematopoietic cell transplant, involves taking healthy bone marrow stem cells and placing them in a patient’s bloodstream, helping to replace a weak immune system with a healthy one.  Only 30% of patients have a relative who matches and can donate; the other 70%, or nearly 12,000 patients, need someone to donate their healthy marrow.  With such an extensive list and a decrease in donors during the coronavirus outbreak, it is particularly challenging to find a match. Every donor that joins the registry can help save a life. 
The pandemic has created a critical decline of potential bone marrow donors both in the U.S. and worldwide. Cancellation of multiple in-person bone marrow registration drives and a widespread public reluctance to donate amid the COVID-19 outbreak led to approximately 400 fewer bone marrow donors joining the registry for There Goes My Hero by April 2020.  As of November 2020, the total number of stem cell products collected declined by approximately 15%, with a particularly sharp decrease in bone marrow products, according to DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center.  As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the amount of bone marrow donations from DKMS Germany donors has decreased from 16.5% to 7.6%.  Global travel restrictions, border closings, and postponement requests for ongoing donor workups are significant factors contributing to a decline of bone marrow donors.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is more critical than ever to find a lifesaving bone marrow donor for blood cancer patients with compromised immune systems. By joining the bone marrow registry, you may be someone’s only hope for a cure.
OriGen Biomedical is a medical device manufacturer headquartered in Austin, Texas, focused on products used in the cryopreservation and cell culture of blood components. OriGen has encouraged registration to the Be The Match Registry and hosted blood drives before the start of the pandemic, supporting employees’ participation and giving back to the community. With numerous canceled or postponed bone marrow registration drives and blood drives, individual bone marrow registrations and blood donations are crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. They are desperately needed every day to save patients’ lives.
To become an organ donor, sign up online or in-person at your local motor vehicle department or join the organ donor registry today at organdonor.gov. Find your country’s registry to sign up as an organ donor at donatelife.net.