State of Emergency: Getting the marrow there

 

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Each year, Be The Match encounters emergency situations that you may not think would be of concern – from blizzards and icy roads to political tensions and global health epidemics. Even under these extreme conditions, Be The Match ensures life-saving marrow is transported to patients anywhere in the world within 48 hours of donation.

When these situations occur, our emergency preparedness team, a group of four full-time staff, partner with a cross functional team of about 20 additional people. So, what types of situations qualify as an emergency, and how does the team ensure marrow is safely transported during these times?

Storms and Natural Disasters:

Ice, snow, tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters are monitored closely by Be The Match. Once a storm system has been identified and the threat is confirmed, the team pulls together a group of individuals who work with our network of transplant and donor centers and logistics specialists that coordinate transportation of the lifesaving products. This team compiles specialized reports by location to ensure proper precautions are put in place and, if needed, alternate plans are made.

In the event a donor or volunteer courier is not able to fly due to the weather or delays, alternate transportation will be put in place by the Be The Match logistics team. This ensures patients in need of marrow transplant receive their life-saving cells in time.

Political Events:

Transportation of life-saving marrow may be affected by worldwide political events. This summer, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, a Hamas rocket struck near the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called a flight ban on all US based carriers traveling to and from Israel. While this incident unfolded, Be The Match started working out a plan to transport couriers from an unused airport in the south of Israel, that was to be opened during the flight restrictions at Ben-Gurion. Thankfully, the FAA flight ban was lifted before this measure needed to be taken.

Volunteer courier safety, while always a concern, was ever heightened during this time. For this reason, the logistics team worked with external contractors, used to navigating extreme situations, to pick up and deliver into Israel. “Our Logistics team did a fantastic job at ensuring alternate couriers were available. We work to ensure that transport process is as safe and timely as possible for the cells and for the couriers” said Cullen Case, Senior Manager of Emergency Preparedness.

Health Trends:

Global health is also an important consideration when transporting marrow. “Starting this summer we have been paying close attention the Ebola outbreak,” said Case. When delivering products to and from South Africa, the team has been mindful of the developing epidemic in Western Africa.  Keeping up with safety precautions and addressing concerns for those travelling on behalf of Be The Match throughout our global community is a key activity. “With Ebola, it’s about being aware of the situation, rather than an actual concern of possible exposure to the virus, at this time” said Case, “so, we frequently update staff about the situation in Africa.”

Success Rates:

With all of the hard work and planning this team does, every patient has received their life-saving marrow transplant, even during emergency situations. “Our operations staff is made up of dedicated professionals who will do whatever it takes to help patients in need,” said Case.

 

14 Responses to “State of Emergency: Getting the marrow there”

  1. Jody Zachary says:

    How does one become a courier?
    Thanks!

  2. Marla Grant says:

    So proud and grateful to be part of your great organization, helping meet your mission objectives. Your travel team is amazing.

  3. Cynthia Vickers says:

    It is amazing how it all comes together, so honored to be a part of it all!!

  4. Brenda Shisslak says:

    Hi,

    I work full-time but I would love to volunteer to be a courier on weekends. I can do Friday nights thru Sunday evenings.

    email (shisslak@gmail.com) or call 781-929-0450

    • admin says:

      Hi Brenda – Thank you for your support! Please send your contact information to questions@nmdp.org and a Be The Match representative will get in touch with you with more information about becoming a courier. Thanks!

  5. Jan Z says:

    I was a donor whose harvest was done on 9/13/01, two days after the tragedy of 9/11. There was concern about getting my product to the recipient, who was already being prepped to receive it. I never knew how it happened but everything went as scheduled. Thank you to everyone involved who works behind the scenes.

  6. Meg says:

    That is amazing! A HUGE thank you to all of your couriers, staff, coordinators, etc. who work day and night (and in dangerous conditions!) to make it happen. I’m in awe.

  7. Wow!thanks to these people who work so hard to ensure lives are saved!

  8. Kelly Morgan says:

    Interested in being a volunteer if you use them. I am a nurse by trade with 5 years BMTU experience. I am also registered as a donor if needed.

  9. Kelly Morgan says:

    As a nurse and as registered to donate. I think this is great!! If volunteers are used please let me know I am interested.

  10. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing this! When I donated 7 years ago, I remember the first part of my donation was unusable for some reason so they started a new collection. Instead of the 18K cells needed, they stopped at about 13K because the courier needed to catch his flight to Europe. I received a letter from my recipient last year, I’m happy to have helped keep him alive after 6 years (and more, I hope)!

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