• Consumer Health: The gift of bone marrow transplantation

a multigenerational family

In this season of celebrating and gift-giving, you could have the chance to give someone the gift of a second chance at life.

Each year, approximately 18,000 people in the U.S. under 74 are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses for which a bone marrow transplant or an umbilical cord blood transplant are their best treatment options, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration.

A bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant, is a procedure that infuses healthy, blood-forming stem cells to replace your damaged or diseased bone marrow.

People who need a bone marrow transplant often have blood disorders or diseases that affect bone marrow function, such as leukemialymphoma or aplastic anemia. A transplant becomes necessary when their bone marrow cannot make enough healthy blood cells, or when the bone marrow has been invaded by a blood cancer.

You might be considering donating blood or bone marrow because someone in your family needs a stem cell transplant and health care providers think you might be a match for that person. Or perhaps you want to help someone else ― maybe even someone you don't know ― who's awaiting a stem cell transplant.

In general, anyone between 18 to 60 who's in good health can be a bone marrow donor. To be considered, all you need to do is join the national registry of potential donors at Be The Match.

Connect with others talking about bone marrow transplantation in the Blood Cancers & Disorders support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

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