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Published December 08, 2013, 10:14 PM

Events aim to add bone marrow donors to registry

FARGO – For Rachel Smart, who suffers from aplastic anemia, finding a compatible bone marrow donor could mean the end of twice-a-week trips to the hospital for treatment.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

If you go

What: Be The Match registration days

Friday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Comstock Memorial Union, MSUM

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Laney’s, 55 27th St. S., Fargo

Sunday: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, NDSU Memorial Union

FARGO – For Rachel Smart, who suffers from aplastic anemia, finding a compatible bone marrow donor could mean the end of twice-a-week trips to the hospital for treatment.

The 41-year-old Fargo newlywed was recently diagnosed with the disease that attacks blood cells and leaves the patient feeling tired and susceptible to infections. Doctors pinpointed the cause of her illness after she suffered symptoms for more than a year.

“It’s been a long process,” Smart said.

Despite family members who offered to donate bone marrow to Smart, the mother and stepmother of five children ages 8 to 18 has yet to find a bone marrow match.

“None of my siblings matched, nor did anyone on the area,” Smart said. “Which is pretty amazing because there are millions of people on the (national) registry,”

But next weekend, the nonprofit Be The Match, along with Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University and the business Laney’s, will hold registry events where the public will be able to join a national bone marrow donor registry just by filling out some paperwork and taking a painless swab of the mouth.

Kristine Reed, Be The Match account executive, said adults between the ages of 18 and 44 can sign up to donate bone marrow. Unlike blood donation, there is no weight or iron requirement that must be met to donate bone marrow.

“That’s a big misconception. They think if I can’t donate blood, I can’t donate marrow,” Reed said. “In actuality, they probably can.”

Once on the registry, a potential donor may be contacted if they are a match for someone in need. Matches usually are made between similar ancestry groups, Reed said.

Someone who signs up for the national bone marrow registry may even end up being a match for Smart.

Be The Match volunteers will help at each location with anyone interested in signing up or donating to Be The Match.

“We’ll be doing whatever we can to get people to sign up,” Smart said. “You really couldn’t make it any easier for them.”

To follow Smart’s story, a page has been created by Be The Match at www.tinyurl.com/hopeinfargo.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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