Sergio Medrano
Latin America Director
Be The Match
Expert Contributor

A Day to Mark in Our Calendars

By Sergio Medrano | Wed, 09/29/2021 - 12:59

Our calendar has many dates, commemorating special events: the birthdays of the ones we love or an anniversary. In my house — as in many others around the world, I am sure — every year, I mark the third Saturday of September as "World Marrow Donor Day," which this year was on Sept. 18.

It is a date that honors those who said "yes" to saving a life, by donating stem cells to a patient with a blood disorder who required a transplant to survive. What better reason to recognize the value of being a donor?

For all associations, organizations, doctors and communities involved in cell therapy, this date is among their most important; it is an opportunity to appreciate and recognize the selfless impact of all donors on the patients who needed their help. But also, to promote and strengthen the much-needed altruistic donation culture.

According to the World Cancer Observatory, 14,000 new cases of cancer or blood diseases are diagnosed in Mexico each year. The latter predominantly affects children and, in many cases, the sole or last treatment option is a bone marrow or stem-cell transplant.

When a patient is referred for transplant, a series of obstacles come to the surface:  economic and emotional, as well as other difficulties. Only 30 percent of patients find a compatible donor in their family, the other 70 percent will begin a search among strangers to help save their lives. Many doctors and specialists know that they can overcome the shock and constant hurdle through the transplant process thanks to the support of organizations such as Be The Match®, a non profit association whose objective is to facilitate cell therapy by matching patients and potential donors worldwide.

Be The Match® Mexico has access to 39 million potential donors around the world. In our country, there are currently more than 78,000 registered potential donors. In Mexico, the organization has successfully collected 86 stem-cell donations between peripheral blood and bone marrow; as well as 37 transplants, seven of which were national: meaning the donor and patient are both from Mexico.

The genetic diversity of our country is vast. Each region and state has its own particularities, which is why it is necessary to have people registered from all over the country to have the opportunity to cover the majority of the existing genotypes. This same diversity is one of the keys to democratizing cell therapy in the country and helping patients who urgently need it.

Access to health is everyone’s right and a reason why it is necessary to increase the number of potential bone marrow and stem-cell donors registered at Be The Match® Mexico.

September also marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, World Lymphoma Awareness Day, and National Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Day, issues of utmost importance for all society. No one is exempt from developing these health issues therefore we must continue to raise awareness, get informed and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel for our patients and their families. There are good-hearted people, health professionals and organizations that work together to contribute to saving these patients´ lives.

Photo by:   Sergio Medrano