Interested in registering as a potential bone marrow donor?
Donors must be healthy individuals between the ages of 19 and 59 with no history of diabetes, severe asthma, cancer, heart problems or hepatitis.
Testing for the genetic markers for matching bone marrow donors and recipients costs about $75. Occasionally a company or other organization pays for the cost of the procedure during special bone marrow drives. People wishing to join the National Bone Marrow Registry can check to see if there's a drive scheduled in their area by calling the National Marrow Donor Program at (800) 654-1247 or the Red Cross at (800) 462-9400.
People may also register and pay the $75 cost out of pocket by calling the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at (617) 632-2561 for more information.
A third way to get involved is to donate blood platelets three times, a procedure that takes about one and a half hours. For information, call the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at the Dana Farber at (617) 632-3206.
According to Steve Falbo, the Dana Farber donor center coordinator, members of minority groups may always register for free. "Because 75 percent of donors on the registry are Caucasian, we need others desperately," he said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 13, 2002.