A New Chance at Life for Patients Over 50

Posted June 26th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Patient over 50Did you know that anyone at any age has the potential to receive a marrow transplant if needed? This hasn’t always been the case, however. Several years ago, transplant doctors were wary about administering marrow transplants for patients over age 50. That changed when research on the treatment of blood cancers and diseases showed that a patient’s overall medical condition is more important than age alone.

In order for a patient to receive a marrow transplant, the diseased marrow in their body must first be completely eliminated using chemotherapy and/or radiation. Then, the recipient’s marrow is replaced with a donor’s healthy marrow. Unfortunately, due to other existing medical conditions, using high doses of chemotherapy to eliminate the diseased marrow is often hard for older patients to endure.

Over the past decade researchers and doctors have found new ways to improve the success rate of marrow transplants in older patients. With reduced-intensity and non-myeloablative conditioning regimens (which use lower doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation) the number of transplants for patients aged 50 and older has increased significantly. In fact, 40 percent of marrow transplant recipients from 2007-2011 were for patients older than 50.

Despite these findings, there are still preconceived notions around marrow transplants and age. For instance, PBSC transplant patient Bob, diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) at age 57 didn’t believe transplant was an option for him. Before receiving a PBSC transplant in 2008, Bob believed he would have better success with other treatment options, due to his age.

“I had read an article, years and years ago, 20 years before this happened, back in a waiting room somewhere, and it put this image in mind that transplants should be avoided at all costs. So I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but said if this is the only way, go ahead,” said Bob.

“I was happy to be in remission and have that as an option but I should have been more aware since years ago when I read the article that technology has come a long way and is much better than it [was] back then.”

During this decade, the portion of transplant recipients older than 60 has more than doubled. Because many researchers and doctors have dedicated time to advancing treatments for older patients, this group of patients continues to be the fastest growing age group of transplant recipients. In 2014, nearly 47 percent of Be The Match® facilitated transplants were for this group of patients.

Through these medical advances, recent research has shown that age should not be a barrier to transplant. Read more about additional life-saving advances in marrow transplant research.

Over 50

#BurstAkselsBubble

Posted June 10th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

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Being home definitely beats being in the hospital, but until a marrow donor is found for three-year-old Aksel, home has become a bubble of isolation. Aksel is clearly a fighter having already beat seizures, organ failure and internal bleeding. But he could use some re-enforcements right about now, and there’s a way you can help  instantly put a smile on Aksel’s face.

Please help us #BurstAkselsBubble by posting photos or videos via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram playing like a 3-year-old and wishing him well using the hashtag.

Aksel would cherish playing with a world of new buddies, if only virtually, for now.

What’s fun to Aksel? He loves dancing, singing and the rain. Sing him a goofy song or show him your dance moves. He’s partial to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” Madagascar’s “I like to Move It, Move It” and “Gangnam Style.” Stomp in some rain puddles for him – the messier the better. His dad works with Formula One racing and Aksel loves cars. Put on a Hot Wheels® race for him.

Does your dog do tricks? Put on a show for Aksel (and Onyx, too). Build a secret fort and invite him in. Rally a convoy of trikes and parade around your block wishing Aksel well. Create a special message for him with sidewalk chalk or finger paint. He misses the swimming pool – the tub is as close as he gets now – so do some goofy dives for him.

“If the public would do this for Aksel, especially other children, it would mean so much to us,” said Carla, Aksel’s mother. “You’d be helping my little boy forget that his life right now is only ‘sort of normal.’ You’d be adding more smiles to his day.”

Aksel has a great smile so let’s put more on his face by showing him great #BurstAkselsBubble photos!

 

Austin’s Story

Posted May 29th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Your matched gift will help children and families get the support and assistance they need! 

Austin

Single mother knows that, in the face of cancer, “The bills don’t stop.”

Born prematurely, six-year-old Austin has spent most of his life in and out of the hospital. When his struggles worsened, blood work revealed a devastating diagnoses—monosomy 7, a rare form a pre-leukemia.

Nikki, Austin’s mother, was devastated and she immediately wanted to know about treatment options. Living in a rural community, they drove four hours from home, to Duke University Medical Center, and learned that Austin’s only hope was a marrow transplant.

Nikki had insurance, but it didn’t cover the search for a marrow donor—essential to saving Austin’s life. As a single mom, the financial burden seemed insurmountable, but there was hope. She was informed about Be The Match Patient Assistance and, thanks to generous financial contributors like you, Be The Match was able to cover the cost of Austin’s search for a marrow donor. Thankfully, an umbilical cord blood match was quickly found.

Gift of Life

Today, Austin’s life is forever changed. Previously a very sick little boy, he didn’t have the strength to learn and play. Now he is retaining weight, his language skills exploded and he is healthy enough go to school. “Austin’s marrow transplant has changed our life and given us hope for his future,” says Nikki.

Nikki is forever grateful to the mother who donated her baby’s umbilical cord blood. “She gave my child life. Someone who would do this for a stranger is an angel.”

The Bills Don’t Stop

Nikki is equally grateful for the financial assistance. “I am a single mom and I was unable work during the time we were in the hospital. The bills don’t stop just because your child is sick. I worried about everything—how will I pay the mortgage, will we have a home when we leave hospital, will we be able to afford food? The patient assistance funds helped with these burdens and allowed me focus on what was most important – Austin’s health.”

How you can help

No qualifying patient has ever been turned away, but requests for help continue to escalate. Over the past five years, the number of families who need help has more than doubled. On average, families who apply for patient assistance funds struggle with expenses that exceed their income by more than $1,600 a month.

During the month of June, John and Caryn Camiolo want to help patients like Austin—and mothers like Nikki—pay for some of the uninsured transplant costs. They have given $100,000 for Be The Match to use as a challenge match, and are challenging our supporters to raise an additional $100,000 for Patient Assistance. Your gift will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, and if it’s received by June 30, will have twice the impact in bringing assistance—and hope—to patients and families.

Please send your gift—of any amount—to Be The Match today and double your impact!

To those who pay it forward to help families like hers Nikki says, “There are no words to thank you enough. Gifts to Be The Match mean life or death for families like mine. We are forever grateful and forever blessed by your financial support.”

Give now and double your gift>

Donation Fast Facts

Posted May 28th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

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If you’re lucky enough to be called as a potential match for a patient in need of a marrow transplant, you’ll likely have some questions. To help prepare you for this potential opportunity, check out these Q and As about getting the call.

When will I be contacted as a potential match for a patient?

You could be contacted today, next year or you may never be contacted. One in 40 registry members will be identified as a potential match for a patient and called upon for additional testing. On average, one in 540 members will go on to donate.

How will I be contacted?

Be The Match will reach out to you using a variety of methods to let you know you’ve been identified as a potential match. You could receive a letter, email, phone call or text. It’s important to respond right away, as time is of the essence. Please keep your contact information updated so we can find you quickly.

What if I have questions when I’m contacted?

  • We’re here to support you and will address any and all questions or concerns. But again, the most important thing is to call us back if you’ve been contacted.

If you’re the best match for the patient, the typical time commitment for the donation process is 20-30 hours over a 4-6 week period. Donors never pay to donate and are not paid for donating.

To learn more about the donation process, check out this interactive timeline.

 

 

Medicare Coverage for Sickle Cell Disease

Posted May 21st, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Early in 2015, the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match® and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) submitted a formal request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for expansion of the current list of diseases for which Hematopoietic Cell Transplant (HCT, also known as blood and marrow transplant) is expressly noted as covered and reimbursable. Several diseases were on this request, including Sickle Cell Disease, Myelofibrosis, Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma.

The NMDP and ASBMT submitted a coverage request for these diseases to increase access to care. Medicare does not indicate that these diseases are either covered or non-covered and this lack of clear coverage puts a patient, and the hospital treating him or her, at severe financial risk if Medicare denies the reimbursement claim after the procedure is complete.

While Medicare primarily serves people age 65 years and older, about 15% of those covered are younger adults who have a disabling illness, such as sickle cell disease. In addition, other payers and insurance plans, including state Medicaid programs, often match their coverage to Medicare.

CMS has agreed to open a National Coverage Analysis (NCA) for two of these diseases now – Sickle Cell Disease and Myelofibrosis. There is a public comment period open from now until May 30, 2015.

How you can help: Please visit the Medicare website on this topic, read the materials and follow the instructions on how to submit a comment. Comments can be simple and to the point; complexity is not required. Please note – the quality of comments is more important than sheer quantity. 

Suggested content for comments:

Identify what type of stakeholder you are: patient, caregiver, advocate, etc.

Identify if your comment is in regards to transplant for Sickle Cell Disease or Myelofibrosis, or both.

Share your story: Tell CMS about your experience with transplant and sickle cell disease. If you experienced a lack of insurance coverage, explain the barrier that created and how it may have impacted you personally.

Comments are due by May 30, 2015. These comments are extremely important to the process and are taken seriously by the Medicare coverage team. Your input will be crucial to the success of this initiative to make transplant accessible to more Medicare beneficiaries.

Please feel free to contact Alicia Silver with questions regarding the National Coverage Analysis: alicia.silver@nmdp.org. For other questions regarding our patient resources and services you can call 1 (888) 999-6743 or email us at patientinfo@nmdp.org

Thank you for your help!

Are you Aksel’s cure? Available for a virtual playdate?

Posted May 20th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Lonely for playmates, Aksel, 3, waits in isolation for marrow donor

Most parents treasure the idea that their child is one-of-a-kind. Aksel’s mom and dad, however, desperately hope their little boy is not.

Like any 3-year-old, Aksel has energy to burn. But for this toddler, there’s no swinging from the monkey bars with other kids. No trips to the zoo. No pre-school classmates to play superheroes or dig in the sandbox with. No buddies coming over to ride trikes and toss back a juice box or two.

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Aksel lives in near seclusion, 90 percent quarantined at his Miami home because of a life-threatening blood disease that has corrupted his immune system. Exposure to even minor viruses or bacterial infections could likely reactivate his disease and prove fatal.

There’s a cure. But it will take a stranger to step forward.

While a marrow transplant can cure Aksel, doctors so far can’t find a matching marrow donor. Turns out few registered marrow donors anywhere on the planet represent the genetic combination – Scandinavian and South American – that is Aksel.

No one in his family is a marrow match. There’s no match on Be The Match Registry®, the U.S. listing of volunteer marrow donors, and international searches haven’t been encouraging.

Aksel’s need for a marrow donor is critical. So his parents, Fredrik and Carla, are urgently searching the world over to find someone to save their “little Viking,” as they call him.

There’s power in your ancestry that makes your marrow life-saving and Aksel’s family is hoping you’ll use it. If you’re between 18 and 44 – especially if you have Scandinavian and/or South American heritage – please visit http://join.BeTheMatch.org/SaveAksel and join the marrow registry. You could be the cure for Aksel or patients like him.

Complete the online health form and you’ll receive a swab kit in the mail. Swab the inside of your cheeks and mail it back in the postage-paid envelope. It’s that easy.

Every year, 14,000 patients in the U.S. with leukemia, sickle cell and other blood diseases search for a marrow donor to save their lives. Patients are more likely to match someone who shares their heritage, but family isn’t enough. Most of us (70 percent) won’t have a match in the family. Patients need their communities, indeed the world, to step up.

Aksel’s world

Typically healthy, Aksel began coming down with one persistent bug after another in November 2014. Then in December, he inexplicably suffered a seizure and organ failure. A bizarre convergence of three viruses had triggered hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis or HLH – the blood disease that is now threatening his life.

Aksel spent hours in surgery and nearly two weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit at Miami Children’s Hospital. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive, but Fredrik and Carla’s “little Viking” fought his way back home.

Home definitely beats a hospital room, but until a marrow donor is found, home has become a necessary bubble of isolation. And, good luck explaining the “necessary” part to a 3-year-old. While upbeat and positive, Aksel is lonely – especially for other children to play with.

His typical day includes bits of normal life. But even those bits come with restrictions.

For instance, Aksel goes on walks in the neighborhood to get fresh air and see new faces. While he can say ‘hello’ to people, he must keep his distance and have no contact. His parents learned the hard way to bypass walking by the park, outdoor birthday parties or blocks where lots of children play. If Aksel sees kids playing, he cries and cries – and pleads to join them. “It’s so heartbreaking,” said Carla.

The complex where he lives has an indoor and outdoor park, but Aksel can’t play when other kids are there. He can only play by himself and only if the equipment has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

There are a few children Aksel may play with one-on-one, but only under the strictest of conditions. First, the child must be screened for 72 hours before any visit to ensure he or she has no sign of illness. If cleared, the playdate must wear very clean socks and leave their shoes outside. Once in the house, he or she must visit the “sterile bar” to get disinfected and fitted with a mask. Even with all that, the playdates are short and contact is limited.

1. Summer 2014- Before HLHThank goodness for Onyx, Aksel’s trusted furry friend. This Shih Tzu keeps Aksel company, watches over him without getting too close, resists the urge to lick and even tolerates getting her paws and snout disinfected daily. They are inseparable.

“We try to make his everyday life ‘sort of normal’ – as much as possible, while at the same time keeping him safe. He doesn’t understand and it feels awful as a parent. But we almost lost him. Catching a cold could bring us right back to the ICU,” said Carla.

Burst Aksel’s Bubble

Clearly Aksel is a fighter. He’s already beat seizures, organ failure and internal bleeding. But he could use some re-enforcements right about now. If you are unable to join the marrow registry, there’s another way to help – and it would instantly put a smile on Aksel’s face.

Child or adult, please help us #BurstAkselsBubble.  Send him a photo or video via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram playing like a 3-year-old and wishing him well.

Aksel would cherish playing with a world of new buddies, if only virtually, for now.

6. Finally Home with Mama & Papa

What’s fun to Aksel? He loves dancing, singing and the rain. Sing him a goofy song or show him your dance moves. He’s partial to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” Madagascar’s “I like to Move It, Move It” and “Gangnam Style.” Stomp in some rain puddles for him – the messier the better. His dad works with Formula One racing and Aksel loves cars. Put on a Hot Wheels® race for him.

Does your dog do tricks? Put on a show for Aksel (and Onyx, too). Build a secret fort and invite him in. Rally a convoy of trikes and parade around your block wishing Aksel well. Create a special message for him with sidewalk chalk or finger paint. He misses the swimming pool – the tub is as close as he gets now – so do some goofy dives for him.

“If the public would do this for Aksel, especially other children, it would mean so much to us,” Carla said. “You’d be helping my little boy forget that his life right now is only ‘sort of normal.’ You’d be adding more smiles to his day.”

And, by the way, Aksel has a great smile.

Meeting the Challenge to Save Lives

Posted May 18th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Your giftmatched by John and Caryn Camiolowill help children and families get the support and assistance they need! 

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You can give now to help children like Austin, whose family has directly benefited from the Be The Match Patient Assistance Program. When Austin was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, his mother, Nikki, had to quit her job to care for him. She soon discovered that the bills don’t stop just because your child is sick. Prescription drug copays, the travel costs to and from the transplant center, and the long hospital stays quickly added up to thousands of dollars each month. By the time Austin was finally well enough to go home after his transplant day in May 2014, he had spent more than 500 days in the hospital.

The Camiolo’s Were Inspired to Help

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In 1994, John and Caryn Camiolo watched a news story about Baseball Hall of Fame legend Rod Carew; his daughter’s cancer journey and their desperate struggle to find her a matching marrow donor. Parents themselves, the Camiolo’s empathized with Rod’s plea and knew they wanted to get involved.

Soon after, John and Caryn started hosting marrow drives to encourage people to join the registry.  “We encountered numerous patient families struggling with transplant-related expenses including travel, housing, deductibles and copayments. These costs were debilitating for many families. We felt called to help.”

They established the John and Caryn Camiolo Patient Assistance Endowment Fund to help ensure that patients experiencing financial strain could afford the marrow transplant and post-transplant care they needed.

“A parent, spouse or child falling seriously ill puts a terrible strain on even the most stable families. It means so much to us to help these families, many of whom travel across the country for even the slimmest chance of receiving help. No family should be distracted by finances when they are focused on getting well,” says John.

For John and Caryn, giving back is a natural next step. “We are happy to contribute to such a worthy cause and we encourage everyone to consider giving what they can.”

Double Your Impact

John and Caryn Camiolo want to help patients like Austin—and mothers like Nikki—pay for some of the uninsured transplant costs. They have given $100,000 for Be The Match to use as a challenge match, and are challenging our supporters to raise an additional $100,000 for Patient Assistance. Your gift will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, and if it’s received by June 30, will have twice the impact in bringing assistance—and hope—to patients and families.

Please send your gift—of any amount—to Be The Match today and double your impact!

 

7 tips for traveling after transplant

Posted April 28th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

For Chris, traveling with her husband before her transplant was one of her greatest joys. After she lost him suddenly in an accident about 18 months after her transplant, she knew that traveling was something she wanted to do again.Chris Brinton-Full Size- Color-21 (1)

“I knew that I could choose to sit home and feel sorry for myself, or I could get out and rediscover what I could do with the health and life that I had been given back. I chose to do that,” she says.

But getting back to traveling took some time. “It was about 2 years after my transplant before I felt like I had the stamina and strength to travel. I took short car trips first and worked up from there. My first flight was from my home on the West Coast to the East Coast. And eventually about 3 years after my transplant, I felt like I was ready to visit my donor in Germany,” Chris says.

MikeMike also knew he wanted to spend time away from home after his transplant. “Before my transplant, my wife and I would spend several months in Florida during the winter. It took just over a year after my transplant before I felt ready to give that a try again,” he says.

Chris and Mike say planning ahead is the key to staying healthy. And by planning ahead, you’ll also be prepared if the unexpected happens. Below are suggestions for traveling after transplant. Make sure you also follow any instructions your doctor gives you.

1.       Talk to your doctor before you go. Tell you transplant doctor, oncologist or primary care doctor about any of your travel plans. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before you schedule your trip to make sure your doctor feels you’re healthy enough to travel. Ask if there are any precautions you should take while you’re away from home.

 2.       Take a letter from your doctor and a current medicine list with you. “I always travel with a letter from my doctor that explains my health history, my condition, the list of medicines I’m on and my most recent blood test results,” Chris says. “I also make sure my sons have a copy of my Power of Attorney for Health Care, and I carry my advance directive with me, just in case it’s needed.”

 It’s also a good idea to carry emergency contact numbers with you, along with an after-hours phone number for your medical team. If you wear a medical alert bracelet, be sure that information is up-to-date, too.

 3.       Know where the nearest hospital or transplant center is, in case of an emergency. Both Mike and Chris needed to go to the hospital while they were away from home, and are thankful that they were prepared. Because Mike was going to be away from home and his transplant doctor for several months, his doctor connected him with another transplant doctor in Florida.

 “He gave him all of my files and asked him to be my doctor if needed. It’s was a good thing we had done that because I had some severe respiratory issues and needed treatment,” Mike shares.

4.       Make sure you have enough medicine with you. Take all medicines with you in their original containers. If you’re flying, pack your medicines in your carry-on bag. And be sure you have enough medicine with you to last you the whole time you’ll be away. If you’ll be living away from home for a bit, like Mike, make sure you have your prescriptions transferred to a nearby pharmacy and check to see that you have enough refills to get you through the amount of time you’ll be gone.

 5.       Let other people know about your needs. If you’re planning a visit to see friends or family, be sure to let them know about any restrictions you have. For example, give them a list of foods you can eat, those you need to avoid and how your food needs to be prepared.

 If you’re going to be traveling with a tour group, contact them ahead of time. “I’ll explain that my immune system is weak and that there are certain restrictions I have, especially with food. They’re really good about making sure that everything is okay for me to eat,” Chris says.

6.       Take precautions on the plane or in hotel rooms. Ask your doctor what precautions you should take if you’re flying or staying in a hotel room. The first time Chris took a long flight, she wore a mask and gloves as a precaution. “The people sitting next to me looked worried and I said, ‘It’s not me, it’s you!’ I explained that I’d had a transplant and my immune system was weak,” she shares.

 When she arrives in a hotel room, Chris also wipes down all of the hard surfaces—like faucets, sinks, toilet seats, countertops and desks—with disposable sanitary wipes. And she never walks around a hotel room without socks or slippers.

7.       Take it slow. Deciding when to start traveling is up to you and your doctor. If you feel ready, ask your transplant doctor what he or she thinks. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, Chris says, “Just do it. Start with small trips and develop your confidence slowly.”

 Mike adds, “If you have the energy to travel and your doctor’s okay, go for it! But don’t overdo it. Take your time, enjoy yourself, but schedule some downtime, too. It’s not a sprint, it’s a journey.”

Do you have travel tips for other transplant recipients? Share your tips for having a safe and fun trip on our Be The Match Patients Connect Facebook page.

Going back to work after transplant

Posted April 28th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

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Any time you go back to work after a long time away, it can lead to mixed emotions—especially after an illness. One of those emotions shouldn’t be worrying that your health history could be used against you. Whether you’re returning to your current job or looking for a new one, remember that there are laws in place to protect you.

When you’re returning to work

When you go back to work, you might find that you don’t have the stamina to take on a full workload right away or that you have other special needs. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can ask your employer to make reasonable accommodations for you.

Before your return, you might find it helpful to:

  • Contact your human resources (HR) department and talk to your supervisor, shop steward or union representative.
  • Talk about any special needs and ask for any changes that would make it easier for you to keep your job (e.g., flex time, regularly scheduled breaks, working from home or special equipment).
  • Work out clear expectations about your schedule and work load.
  • Keep a record of each request and the response.
  • Talk to your HR department about your health insurance benefits. There are laws, including HIPAA and COBRA, which protect your benefits if you had health insurance before your leave.

DB_Newsletter_Mar09.pub With her doctor’s permission, Megan went back to work 6 months after transplant. She was eager to get back to work because she felt like she was missing out. But looking back, she realizes she should have taken things a little slower.

“My advice is to take your time,” says Megan. “I learned that it is okay to work your way back into it and you’re probably putting more pressure on yourself to get back to normal than your company will expect of you. Make sure you are ready mentally and physically to endure all that needs to be done in a day’s work. Try to maintain an efficient work/life balance because after what you went through, you deserve to be happy, healthy and do what you love.”

 If you get Social Security disability benefits, there are resources to help you get back to work, like a trial work period. A trial work period lets you test your ability to work and still get Social Security benefits for up to 9 months. You can learn more about a trial work period on the Social Security Administration website or call (800) 772-1213. Also, check with your long-term disability provider through your work. They may have more services for you, like help planning your return to work or financial support as you gradually work more hours.

Searching for a new job

If you decide to look for a new job after transplant, even years down the road, you don’t have to tell your potential employer about your health history unless you choose to do so. And companies can’t ask about it, either.

“You do not have to disclose anything about your medical history and by law they’re not allowed to ask you anything about your medical situation,” says Nancy Boyle, MSW, LCSW, a transplant social worker at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “If you’re in an interview, know that your work history and your abilities are the things that are the most important to emphasize.”

However, if you had a gap in your employment, a potential employer might ask you to explain it. CancerAndCareers.org offers tips for explaining your resume gap. The tips are useful for any transplant recipient, whether or not your transplant was for a blood cancer.

Although you’re not required to talk about your health history, some transplant recipients choose to do so.

“There’s a definite gap in my employment history, so to me it wasn’t an option to not bring it up. If they didn’t want to hire me because of that, it’s probably not a place where I would have wanted to work,” says Matt, a transplant recipient. “When I was interviewing for jobs and I brought up that I’d had cancer, I think the reaction was positive. I think that it was something that showed that I’d gone through tough times and was resilient.”

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“I completely disclosed my medical history during my interview,” says Kathy, a transplant recipient. “I know that is not required, but I did. Because I had done so, my new employer understood that I had many doctor appointments and would have to adjust my schedule to meet my needs.”

Be The Match® can help you find resources to help with the transition back to work or looking for a new job after transplant. Contact our patient services coordinators at patientinfo@nmdp.org or 1 (888) 999-6743.

The following resources can also help you understand your rights about going to back to work, disclosing health information and easing your transition back into the workforce:

After Afghanistan, Military Mom Embarks on Another Life-Saving Mission

Posted April 27th, 2015 by admin and filed in News

Don Brown Jr. Caption

This Mother’s Day is extra special for a military family who donated their baby’s cord blood.

 Angela, who served her country in Afghanistan, and her husband Don, an Army first sergeant, donated their baby’s umbilical cord blood shortly after his birth.

Donated cord blood units that meet criteria are frozen, stored, listed on Be The Match Registry® and made available to any patient in need of a transplant. Cord blood, usually disposed of after birth, is valuable because it contains blood stem cells. These cells can be used to treat more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma. For some patients, a blood stem cell transplant is their only hope for a cure, and thousands of patients are searching for a match.

Donating to a public cord blood bank is free. Cord blood is collected right after birth, and has no effect on labor or delivery. The process is safe for moms and babies. “[My doctors] did it right after I had my son, so it was a quick process,” said Angela.

Angela is African American, making her child’s cord blood donation especially valuable. Transplant patients are more likely to match someone who shares their racial or ethnic heritage. But with fewer African Americans on worldwide marrow donor registries, these patients have a more difficult time finding a close match. Using blood stem cells from cord blood may be their only hope for survival.

Unlike blood stem cells found in bone marrow, stem cells in cord blood are immature and haven’t yet learned how to attack foreign substances. Cord blood does not need to match as closely for the transplant to be successful, therefore it’s easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with other sources of blood stem cells.

This makes access to cord blood vital for ethnic minorities. Angela learned about cord blood donation as a pregnant soldier when a representative from the Bloodworks Northwest cord blood program visited a class at her Army base near Tacoma, Washington.

She had heard of cord blood donation, but when she learned how badly African American donors were needed, she was convinced it was something she needed to do after her baby was born. That’s why she arranged for her cord blood donation earlier in her pregnancy, and brought the paperwork to the hospital the day her child was born.

At the stroke of midnight, January 1,2014, Angela and her husband welcomed their healthy baby boy into the world. He was the first baby of the New Year born in Western Washington. Don Jr. joined a wonderful family with two older brothers—and parents inspired to help others, however they can.

Expectant mothers who are interested in donating cord blood are advised to contact their cord blood bank or Be The Match between their 28th and 34th weeks of pregnancy. Learn more about cord blood donation, go to BeTheMatch.org/cord.