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National Marrow Donor Program(R) Kicks off National Awareness Campaign
Date:5/5/2008

Drives across the country and online offer opportunity to save a life

MINNEAPOLIS, May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- With the ambitious goal of adding 46,000 new members to the marrow Registry during the two weeks surrounding Mother's Day, Thanks Mom, the National Marrow Donor Program's largest annual awareness campaign, kicks off today.

For thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases, a marrow transplant offers a second chance at life. Thanks Mom, which runs through May 19, urges people to join the Registry online or in person at drives across the country.

"The first thing we want to say to everyone who joins the Registry is 'thank you'," said Jeffrey W. Chell, M.D., chief executive officer of the NMDP. "One person really can make a difference. This Mother's Day, what better way to say, 'Thanks Mom' for giving you life, than to share the gift of life with another? Every donor added to the Registry and every dollar given helps save a life."

The Thanks Mom campaign highlights dozens of searching patients nationwide -- all of whom have amazing stories of strength and survival. For example:

-- Matt and Alexandra Pearl (Mo.) are two young siblings with a

potentially fatal genetic disease called Fanconi anemia. This

Mother's Day, Matt and Alexandra will meet their donors -- two

mothers from different parts of the world who donated their marrow

to give the siblings another chance at life -- for the first time.

-- Blake LaForce (Ohio), a high school senior and star athlete, was

recently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Blake's

energy and that of his teammates turned to finding a matching donor

for Blake so that he can go to college and live an active life.

-- Andrew Akin (Mo.) is a blue-eyed baby with a rare disorder of the

immune system known as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) that

affects one out of every million newborn children. The good news is

that HLH can be cured with a marrow transplant.

-- Deb Rusnock (Mich.), devoted wife and mother, was diagnosed in 2004

with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). She prays daily that a donor

will be found so she can return to good health and to "typical mom

activities" with her daughter.

Every day, more than 6,000 patients like Matt, Alexandra, Blake, Andrew and Deb search the Registry for a life-saving donor. Seventy percent of patients will not find a match within their family, and only three in 10 patients receive the transplant that could save their lives. Increasing the number of diverse donors on the Registry is critical because patients have the best chance of finding a match within their own race.

People can take part in Thanks Mom by attending one of the hundreds of donor drives across the nation. To find a drive, visit http://www.marrow.org and use the zip code finder to find a drive near you. People can also register online at marrow.org and become part of the NMDP's interactive Donor Garden on marrow.org, where they can share their story and inspire others to get involved.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60, in good health and willing to help any patient in need is eligible to join the NMDP Registry.

About the National Marrow Donor Program

The NMDP facilitates unrelated marrow and cord blood transplants as a single point of access for a long-standing collaborative network of leading national and international medical facilities in marrow and cord blood transplantation. The NMDP connects patients, doctors, donors and researchers to the resources they need to help more people live longer and healthier lives. For more information call 1 (800) MARROW-2 or visit http://www.marrow.org.


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SOURCE National Marrow Donor Program
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