FACTS & FIGURES: An Urgent Need
We have the cure; We need the volunteers to provide it
87 Million: Number of registered organ donors in the US.
39%: Percentage of licensed American drivers registered as organ donors.
9 Million: Number of registered bone marrow donors in the US.
2%: Percentage of Americans registered as potential bone marrow donors.
15,000: Number people in the United States diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses where bone marrow transplantation are their best hope for a cure.
70+: Number of diseases which can be treated and cured with a bone marrow transplant.
6000: Number of people seeking a donor on any given day.
3000: Number of people who die each year while waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
70% Percentage patients needing a marrow transplant but who do not have a match in family.
40%: Percentage of patients who receive the transplant they nee
28%: Percentage of potential donors who are of diverse racial and ethnic heritage.
1: Number of people it takes to provide a life-saving miracle and cure for a patient.
In 1989, a group of students at Davidson College approached President John Kuykendall and asked for his support in connecting the school to the cause of identifying potential donors for the national registry. On March 13, 1990, Davidson College held its inaugural Project Life bone marrow donor recruitment drive. Close to 500 students, staff, and faculty stepped forward to join the Project Life movement and an incredible, 20-year story unfolded.
To read a letter from Dr. Kuykendall, please click here.
If we all took the next 5 seconds to think of one person in our lives who seems to brighten up every room, who can meet literally no stranger, and whose effervescent energy is pervasive to the point of exhaustion, I bet we could all conjure up the image of that one person and find ourselves chuckling together at their antics and their beauty. When I think of such a person in my life, my mind immediately runs to my father, a man who in his 59 years on this earth lived a life so full it seemed like 100, a life full of people, smiles, and outreach to those he hardly knew. That phrase “he could talk to a brick wall” was never so well illustrated as in the man I loved so dearly. No one on earth was a stranger to him and every single human being he saw was worth a smile, a chat, a hug. To describe him as an extrovert would be the understatement of the century. I can hardly illustrate the true extent of my father’s gregariousness in a blog post, but I can try to explain the strange way that his struggles and triumphs changed my life course.
My father’s 9 year battle with leukemia was a long and arduous one, but in February of 2009, it was time for desperate measures—a bone marrow transplant. 70% of patients who need a transplant match do not find one in their family and instead search the National Marrow Donor Registry, a database full of individuals who have said, “perhaps I can be of some help, let me serve those who might need me.” There are 8 million people who have joined that database and have been listed by their particular “type.” And yet still no perfect match existed for my father in that database. 8 million people is an incredible number, but our world is 6 billion. And in that 6 billion are perhaps thousands (maybe millions) of potential matches, potential connections that could save lives.
My father’s less-than-perfect option couldn’t help save his life, but the idea that there are countless possibilities, countless options, and a multitude of people to reach has instilled me with a passion to continue trying to find matches for everyone that needs one. I’m on a mission to give hope, to challenge my communities, to make it possible to connect someone who “has” with someone who “needs.” As the coordinator of Project Life here at Davidson, my goal is to have as many people as possible “get typed” and add their names to that database of people who have committed to being beacons of hope. We typed 143 people in November, and we’re not stopping. More than 30 people typed at Davidson College over the last 20 years have donated marrow to a patient in need and have saved lives.
My dad’s gregariousness, enthusiasm, and almost indescribable desire to reach out to every human being, every one of world’s most precious creatures, did not dwindle when he drew his last breath. My dad’s infectiousness and need to be connected to our fellow creatures found its way into my being and is propelling me to find new ways to own up to that legacy.
I have hope to hold on to, possibilities to believe in, and a passion to work for. Though some may disagree with Thomas Friedman’s description, the world is flat, and we are in fact so connected with one another and so capable of bringing change throughout our world. I received a transplant of energy when my dad received his bone marrow transplant. That energy pervades me. Through my dad’s death I found an employment, a purpose, and I have realized this part of a grander plan. And it is in these realizations that I may give thanks for the darker hours. For in that darkness comes the light.
Jack’s Mannequin is an American rock band formed in 2004, originally hailing from Orange County, California. The band began as a side project of Andrew McMahon , the frontman for Something Corporate, and is composed of guitarist Bobby Anderson, newest member (as of 10/29/2010) bassist Mikey “The Kid” Wagner, and drummer Jay McMillan.
In June 2005, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, just months before the release of Jack’s Mannequin’s debut studio album. They released the album, Everything in Transit , in August 2005. The album peaked at number 37 on the Billboard 200. McMahon made a full recovery and the band returned to touring. They released The Glass Passenger after a series of delays in 2008. It sold 49,000 copies in its first week and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard 200. ”The Resolution” was released as the first single and charted at number 27 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks
If the experience of a bone marrow transplant had an accompanying anthem, I’d argue that “Caves” by Jack’s Mannequin might be the first and best candidate for it. Here’s a bit of the lyrics:
Somewhere in between
And living a dream.
Just clicking machines
In the quiet of compazine.
The walls caved in on me.
And she sings
My bird dressed in white.
And she stings
My arm in the night.
I lay still
Still I’m ready to fight.
Have my lungs
But you can’t take my sight.
The walls caved in
And out here
I watch the sun circle the earth
The marrows collide in rebirth
In God’s glory praise
The spirit calls out from the caves.
The walls fell and there I lay