Our first transplant took place in 1987, when Diane Walters of Wisconsin donated marrow to 6-year-old Brooke Ward of North Carolina to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Now, 25 years later, Miah Winterfeldt, a 19-year-old college student from Shakopee, Minn., was identified as the 50,000th donor. Miah was inspired to join the Be The Match Registry in honor of her uncle who passed away from lymphoma. She was identified as a match for a searching patient and recently donated peripheral blood stem cells to an individual with leukemia.
The Be The Match Registry is the world’s largest and most diverse registry of potential marrow donors and umbilical cord blood units, serving patients with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Today, the registry includes more than 9 million volunteer donors, and provides patients access to more than 185,000 cord blood units. On average, 60,000 new potential donors join the Be The Match Registry each month.
Those donors and many more are needed because of the increasing number of patients who could benefit from a transplant. Advances in the science of transplantation – including more precise methods to match patients with unrelated donors, better pinpointing of optimal transplant timing and more potent drugs to combat complications – have made the procedure an option for thousands more patients of various ages and diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Over the past 25 years, millions of people like you have stepped up to join the registry and give patients hope that a match would be found. Without your selflessness and commitment, we could not have achieved this remarkable milestone. Thank you from the NMDP and Be The Match patient families everywhere!