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Be The Match

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The Need for Donors

Thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases need a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant and depend on the Be The Match Registry(R) to find a match — someone like you.

We all have the power to help, the power to give hope.

Finding a Match: The Basics

For a successful transplant, a patient needs a matching donor. Special testing determines whether a patient and a bone marrow donor or umbilical cord blood are a good match. The closer the match, the better for the patient. Seventy percent of people do not have a matching donor in their family. They depend on Be The Match Registry, the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow donors, to find that life-saving match.

Race and Ethnicity Matter

Because the markers used in matching are inherited, patients are more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity.

One searching patient knows this reality all too well. Unlike most 15-year-old girls, Taylor John isn’t eagerly anticipating her 16th birthday. She has severe sickle cell anemia and a marrow transplant is her best hope for a cure. But there is no matching donor in her family or currently on the Be The Match Registry. And because of the progression of the disease, doctors say Taylor may run out of time if a match isn’t found before her 16th birthday, which is this August.

A Match For Every Patient: Hope For Every Family

Taylor and thousands of other patients count on the Be The Match Registry, and its 8 million potential volunteer donors who stand ready to donate to someone in need. While many patients do find the life-saving match they need each year, more donors are needed, especially those from racially and ethnically diverse communities.

“By joining the Be The Match Registry you’re not just potentially helping me, but also the thousands of other patients like me who don’t have a match. Everyone has the power to potentially save a life,” says patient Taylor John.

Adding more donors and cord blood units from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the Be The Match Registry increases the likelihood that all patients will find the match they need. Your heritage can make all the difference. If you are from one of the following communities, you are especially encouraged to join the Be The Match Registry or donate umbilical cord blood:

  • Black and African American
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Asian, including South Asian
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • Hispanic and Latino
  • Multiple race

Those joining the registry need to stand ready to become marrow donors if they get the call. Committed registry members are part of a community unlike any other. Each member has the power to save a life.

Who We Are – About Be The Match

Be The Match(R) is a movement that engages a growing community of people inspired to help patients who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. Be The Match offers the public an opportunity to get involved by joining the Be The Match Registry, donating umbilical cord blood, contributing financially or volunteering time.

Our Mission

Every year, thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases need an unrelated marrow or cord blood transplant. Many of them will die unless they get a bone marrow or cord  blood transplant from a matching donor. Seventy percent of people do not have a donor in their family and depend on the Be The Match Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program(R) (NMDP), to find a match.

Our Story

When their 10-year-old daughter Laura was diagnosed with leukemia, Robert Graves, D.V.M., and his wife Sherry were ready to do anything they could to save her. They agreed to try a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor – the first ever for a leukemia patient.

Laura received her transplant in 1979 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The treatment gave her an extra year and a half of life.

And it inspired Dr. Graves to launch a quest to create a national registry of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow. His early efforts brought together other patient families and transplant doctors, spurring a federal mandate that led to the creation of the National Marrow Donor Program. We began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers.

One of those patients was 6-year-old Jason. He received his bone marrow transplant in 1987, the year the National Marrow Donor Program began matching patients with donors.

Out of a registry of 10,000 members, Lori Groen was a match, and she was committed and ready to give Jason the chance to grow up. Because of her marrow donation, he’s alive to tell his story today.


Our registry – now called the Be The Match Registry – has grown to more than 8 million donors and more than 100,000 cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world.

Medical advances are making marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants available to more patients all the time. Since we began operations in 1987, we have facilitated more than 40,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life. Today, we facilitate more than 4,800 transplants a year.

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