Sergio Medrano
Latin America Director
Be The Match
/
Expert Contributor

In the Fight Against Childhood Cancer, We Can All Be Allies

By Sergio Medrano | Tue, 02/15/2022 - 09:00

Many of the stories of childhood cancer begin when the general practitioner indicates to the parents the need for an additional evaluation, the one of the oncologist. The simple fact of hearing this term generates fear in the family. After the second visit, the unexpected happens: the infant is diagnosed with blood cancer, also known as leukemia.

The announcement severely impacts the family as they understand the news as a radical change in their daily lives and in their child's future. From that moment on, a difficult path begins: consultations, hospitalization, therapies and uncertainty. The anxiety increases since, in some cases, the above is not enough, and the minor's life may depend on a bone marrow transplant.

In Mexico, the most common types of childhood cancer are leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma and solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumor. According to figures from the Ministry of Health, each year more than 2,000 children die from cancer and between 5,000- 6,000 new cases are diagnosed in children under 18 years of age. About 50 percent of the new cases reported each year correspond to blood diseases, which forces those who suffer from them to modify their lifestyle and routine.

According to health authorities in Mexico, diseases such as leukemia have an 80 percent chance of being cured if they are treated in a timely manner, but what happens when we have an early diagnosis, and it seems impossible to access the only treatment option?

Cell therapy consists of transplanting the  patient with bone marrow or stem cells from a healthy donor and in many cases, it is considered the last hope to live. The difficulty of this therapy begins with not finding a donor in the family circle, a situation experienced by more than 70 percent of people who are on their way to transplantation. For this reason, it is necessary to look for candidates, no matter where they are in the world, to save their lives. At Be The Match® Mexico, we call this process of finding a genetically compatible profile "matching.” It is achieved thanks to the altruistic union of thousands of people driven by the desire to help others and who are connected through our donor network.

With a presence in Mexico since 2017, we have stood out for being the most diverse registry of potential bone marrow donors in the world and a facilitator for doctors, institutions and patients seeking to find a genetically compatible donor. In Mexico alone, we have over 92,000 potential donors throughout the country, ready to positively impact the lives of others.

Through all our channels we have reinforced the importance of disseminating information about cell therapy in order to demystify it, making resources available to the medical community and the general population to learn about transplant culture in detail.

In addition to this, we work hand in hand with 16 public and private sector hospitals with whom we have facilitated, so far, 43 procedures — 38 pediatric and five adults — since our arrival in the country.

We know that the fight against childhood cancer is not easy, but at Be The Match® Mexico we trust that together we can help those who need us most, no matter where they are in the country, because altruism can connect us to save lives.

Photo by:   Sergio Medrano